Ridgway hydropower project adds to Tri-State’s renewable portfolio

View of Tri-County’s new hydropower plant that began generating for Tri-State on June 1.

View of Tri-County’s new hydropower plant that began generating for Tri-State on June 1.

Tri-State staff, member co-op personnel and a crowd of about 150 officials and guests gathered near the base of the Ridgway Reservoir and Dam in Colorado’s Ouray County, on June 6, for the dedication of Tri-County Water Conservancy District’s new 8-megawatt hydropower project that began producing renewable power for Tri-State on June 1 under a 10-year power purchase agreement.

This is a somewhat unusual project in that the water district actually has two customers purchasing power from the new hydropower plant’s generating units. The larger portion – approximately 60 percent — will be purchased by Tri-State between June and September and for the remaining months the plant’s output will be sold to the City of Aspen.

This new hydroelectric facility was built with the assistance of Tri-State, which extended a line to the site and constructed a new switching station to connect the plant to the power grid. Station service to the power house and Tri-County’s ancillary plant facilities is provided locally by Tri-State member San Miguel Power Association, based in Ridgway and Nucla.

Tri-State’s Myles Jensen was one of the featured speakers at the June 6 dedication ceremony of the new hydroelectric plant at Ridgway Dam and Reservoir in Colorado’s Ouray County.

Tri-State’s Myles Jensen was one of the featured speakers at the June 6 dedication ceremony of the new hydroelectric plant at Ridgway Dam and Reservoir in Colorado’s Ouray County.

Representing Tri-State at the dedication event was Myles Jensen, senior manager of member relations and Susan Hunter, business development manager for energy resources.

Jensen spoke at the dedication, providing a brief overview of Tri-State’s operations, including its other renewable resources, as well as expressing the association’s support and congratulations for this long-awaited and successful project.  The project was originally authorized by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in the late 1960s.

Visitors toured the plant’s power house, where facility’s turbine generators are housed.

Visitors toured the plant’s power house, where facility’s turbine generators are housed.

Tri-County’s new hydroplant features two generating units – a 7.2-megawatt generator and a smaller 800-kilowatt unit.  Annual output of the Ridgway plant is estimated to be 24-gigawatt-hours during average water years.

Ridgway Dam and Reservoir are part of the Dallas Creek Project that was authorized in 1968 under the Colorado River Storage Project Act of 1956. Ridgway Dam was constructed in 1987 and the Ridgway Reservoir was filled in 1990. The reservoir, which was designed to provide an impoundment for irrigation for agriculture, flood control and water for municipal and industrial purposes, is fed by the Uncompahgre River.

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