Rockfall damages penstock supplying 900-kW Ouray hydro project in Colorado

The 900-kW Ouray hydro project, on the Ucompahgre River in Colorado, was damaged when a large boulder fell from the canyon wall.

VisitOuray said on Facebook that about 80 feet of the penstock, which is 30 inches in diameter, was destroyed.

According to The Colorado Sun, the rockfall occurred on March 16 and also damaged a metal walkway accessing the park’s ice climbs. The plant generates about 4 million kWh of electricity annually, which is sold to the San Miguel Power Association.

The project also supplies water for the Ouray Ice Park, an ice climbing venue that extends for 3 miles south of Ouray and attracts thousands of climbers each year.

The plant began operating in 1887 and is now owned by Hydrowest.

The owner indicates repairs will be undertaken. said on Facebook that the hydropower plant is expected to be offline for at least three months.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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