Association begins work on 180-kW Miller Creek Ditch small hydro project in Colorado

The White River Electric Association has begun construction of its 180-kW Miller Creek Ditch small hydro project in Rio Blanco County, Colorado.

This facility will be located on Flag Creek and use water from the Miller Creek Ditch to generate electricity. The plant will be operational during the irrigation season and will return a production fee to the Miller Creek Ditch based upon total generation. The plant is expected to generate about 464,500 kWh of electricity annually.

The project will consist of a 20-foot-by-23-foot powerhouse adjacent to the downstream end of an existing steel pipe 30 inches in diameter that is used to convey Miller Creek Ditch across a county road. Water enters a 30-inch-diameter penstock fed by a new diversion and intake structure and powers a crossflow turbine-generator unit. Water then is returned to the existing 30-inch-diameter pipe.

The WREA board established the goal of identifying local renewable generation projects that make both electrical and financial sense for WREA and its membership in 2015. This project both met the board’s criteria and assists WREA in its compliance with Colorado’s local renewable generation mandates, according to a press release.

Lindsay George with Small Hydro LLC completed the feasibility analysis, design and engineering for the project. Rock Hawg Construction was selected to build the facility.

WREA says the goal is that the project be operational by early fall.

WREA is a rural electric distribution cooperative serving three counties in Colorado. reported in November 2016 that WREA received $177,725 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase and install hydropower renewable energy systems.

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