District eyes two hydro projects in northern California

PLACERVILLE, Calif., U.S. 9/1/09 (PennWell) — Two small hydropower projects may be built in northern California’s El Dorado County to serve customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

The El Dorado Irrigation District recently included funding for the design of both projects in its 2009-2013 capital-improvement budget. The district expects to earn at least $400,000 a year from the two projects, which would begin commercial production in 2011.

Both projects — Pleasant Oak Main and El Dorado Main 2 — were identified in a year-long study of sites suitable for hydropower generation, the district said.

“In looking at financing costs, regulatory requirements, and other criteria, it became clear these two projects are the most viable,” said Cindy Megerdigian, the district’s engineering manager for water and hydropower.

District President George Wheeldon said he expects the payback on both projects to be “relatively short.”

Once both projects are state certified as “clean power,” PG&E will guarantee the district a price for the power produced for 20 years. During periods of peak usage, the price could double, the district said.

“Our revenue estimates include what we expect from the projects during non-peak and peak times,” Megerdigian said.

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