Ridgway Dam might generate electricity

Ridgway Dam’s authorization anticipated that it would generate electricity, and more than two decades after it was completed, a water district is considering doing just that.

Tri-County Water Conservancy District in Montrose is hoping to install one, maybe more, turbines at the base of the dam about six miles north of Ridgway to generate 20.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That’s enough to power more than 1,900 western Colorado homes a year.

“We could put some green power through there,” Tri-County General Manager Mike Berry said.

“It’s a really good project.”

Sales of electricity generated from the project would go to pay off the hydroelectric generating project, as well as the Dallas Creek project, which Congress authorized for construction in 1968.

The cost of installing a generating station is estimated at $13 million to $18 million. A scoping meeting to determine the kinds of issues related to the proposal will be at 5:30 p.m.  April 26 in the 4-H Event Center, 22739 U.S, Highway 550 in Ridgway.

In the meantime, Tri-County is beginning to negotiate with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to lease a privilege to generate power, Berry said.

At the same time, Tri-County also is shopping the project to potential power buyers, but doesn’t yet have contracts, Berry said.

Tri-County has been considering the possibility of generating hydropower at Ridgway since 1984, three years before the dam was completed, Berry said.

Little work would have to be done on the earthen dam that holds back Ridgway Reservoir, which has a capacity of 84,410 acre feet of water, said Dan Crabtree, the supervising civil engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation on the project.

The outlet pipe from the dam is accessible and Tri-County would have to tap off it to direct water into a turbine to begin generating power, Crabtree said.

“There is not a large amount of earthwork or work on the embankment” that would have to be done, Crabtree said.

Preliminary plans call for two turbines, one capable of generating 5 megawatts and the other 2.1 megawatts. Depending on the flows, both could be used or just one, Berry said.

“The whole strategy is not to change historic release patterns for this reservoir,” Berry said.

The Bureau of Reclamation is also collecting comments, which may be submitted to Steve McCall at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Bureau of Reclamation, 2764 Compass Drive, Suite 106, Grand Junction 81506 through May 27.


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