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Small Hydro Conference Features Co-op Projects

May 17, 2012

About 200 people attended the Small Hydro Conference at the Denver Convention Center earlier today and several electric co-op small hydro projects were featured.

Carl Brouwer with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District described the Carter Lake project and how the involvement of Poudre Valley REA was critical to the success of that project.

Bentley Henderson with the Town of Basalt showed slides depicting the recently-completed mini-hydro project on the Town’s water intake system and gave credit to Holy Cross Energy for its support of the project.

Jim Heneghan with the Delta-Montrose Electric Association gave an overview of the 7 MW South Canal Project and described the  extensive work the co-op has done to get that project off the ground.  (I was especially glad to hear that the project will keep more of the trophy brown and rainbow trout in the Gunnison River where yours truly will have a shot at them.)

Jeremy Wendt with the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority talked about the first loan from its Small Hydropower Loan Program going to the City of Cortez for a project supported by Tri-State and  Empire Electric Association.

And George Wenschhof, a rancher near Meeker, discussed his project that is net metered by White River Electric Association.

As CREA’s representative, I made a presentation about the co-op program and gave an overview of the many small hydro projects in co-op territory. I also discussed some of the challenges posed by these projects for the co-ops, but emphasized that the co-ops go to great lengths to facilitate and support member-owned generation projects. All in all, the conference put the co-op program in a positive light and showed our willingness to diversify our power portfolio with small hydro projects.  With the recent estimates of the potential for more small hydro in Colorado, co-ops can expect to be involved in even more projects in the future.

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