Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District: Pueblo Dam power plant begins operations
The $20 million James W. Broderick Hydroelectric Power Facility at Pueblo Reservoir began operations this week after testing and commissioning were completed during May.
The plant will produce electricity by harnessing flows that pass through the north outlet of the dam into the Arkansas River. Water rushing through the turbines is not consumed during the process, but simply returns to the river.
The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District signed a Lease of Power Privilege with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in August of 2017, and began construction shortly afterward. Reclamation approved full operations this week.
Mountain States Hydro LLC, of Sunnyside, Wash., was the general contractor for the design-build project, which was financed through a $17.2 million low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the District’s Enterprise.
“This is an important step for the District,” said Southeastern’s Executive Director Jim Broderick. “We envision this as a long-term revenue source for Enterprise programs, such as the Arkansas Valley Conduit. Equally important will be the new source of clean power we have created.”
The Southeastern Board voted in April to name the hydro plant for Broderick. A dedication is being planned, but no date has been set.
The 7.5-megawatt plant will generate 28 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, roughly enough to power 2,500 homes. Three turbines and two generators within the plant can be used individually or in tandem to take advantage of releases from Pueblo Dam ranging from 35-810 cubic feet per second.
The Pueblo Dam Hydro plant was constructed on a dedicated connection to the North Outlet Works, which was constructed by Colorado Springs Utilities as part of the Southern Delivery System.
The genesis of the project came in 2011, when Reclamation published a notice of intent to develop environmentally sustainable hydropower at Pueblo Dam. Southeastern, Pueblo Water and Colorado Springs Utilities partnered in the application for the Lease of Power Privilege.
Southeastern remained as the sole signer of the lease in 2017, after working on a preliminary design with Mountain States. Colorado Springs Utilities, which operates four hydro power plants, is working with Southeastern to provide technical assistance and power scheduling both during startup and operations.
Power from Pueblo Dam Hydro will be sold to the city of Fountain, and to Fort Carson, through a separate agreement with Colorado Springs Utilities for the first 10 years of generation. For the next 20 years, Fountain will purchase all of the power generated by the plant.
“Through this unique partnership, we are proud to assist Fort Carson with its renewable energy initiatives, collaborate with the City of Fountain and strengthen our ties to the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District,” said Colorado Springs Utilities General Manager John Romero. “This project further leverages the investments that citizens of the region have made in both the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project and the Southern Delivery System.”
“We’re very excited,” said Curtis Mitchell, utilities director for Fountain. “This provides us with a source of clean electric power, and it has the added benefit of saving money for our ratepayers.”
The Fryingpan-Arkansas Project (Project) is a transmountain diversion which supplies southeastern Colorado with improved supplemental water supply for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses, hydroelectric power generation, and recreational opportunities. The Project also provides flood control for the area and is designed to maintain or improve fish and wildlife habitats. The Project acquired its name from the fact that it collects approximately 57,400 acre-feet of water each year from the Fryingpan River basin on the western slope of the Continental Divide and delivers it via the Arkansas River to the water-short eastern slope. Learn more online @ https://www.secwcd.org/