Improvements to 100-year-old Facility Also Will Reduce Environmental Hazards
Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, U.S. Senators for Colorado, today announced the 100-year-old Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Project will get up to $1.18 million to replace two old turbines for higher efficiency and output.
The funds, provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, are part of $30.6 million in funding announced by the U.S. Department of Energy to modernize hydropower infrastructure by increasing efficiency at existing facilities and reducing their environmental impact.
"This investment is a win-win for the Boulder community - it will create jobs and help Boulder finish a project they've been working on for years," Senator Udall said. "With the upgrades made possible through this funding, Boulder will also add new life to an existing source of clean power."
"This is great news for the Boulder community, which has worked for years to find funding for this much-needed project," Bennet said. "This funding will help to generate more power for local communities without increasing emissions or burdening our grid. It's a commonsense investment in a renewable energy source that will help create jobs, improve our environment and boost our economy."
The city of Boulder will use the funds to replace two older turbines with a single, high-efficiency unit. The new turbine would operate at a wider range of flows and higher efficiency ranges, resulting in an increase in annual generation of 11,000 MWh (30% increase). Upgrades to wiring and removal of asbestos would reduce environmental hazards and improve safety.
The Boulder project is one of seven hydropower projects selected for these funds by the Energy Department. DOE sought cost-shared projects that upgrade existing hydropower facilities without requiring significant civil works modifications to dams, allowing for them to be developed quickly to help create jobs and stimulate the local economy. The solicitation sought two classes of projects: those larger than 50 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity and those of 50 MW or smaller, which includes Boulder.
The selected projects will increase generation by an estimated 187,000 MWh/year, or enough to meet the annual electric usage of more than 12,000 homes. This incremental generation is virtually carbon free, and it represents a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of more than 110,000 tons per year compared to electricity from the average U.S. grid.
Additionally, upgrading existing hydro facilities in this way is a very inexpensive way to provide renewable energy: the estimated cost of the added generation is less than 4 cents per kWh on average, placing incremental hydro among the most inexpensive sources of renewable energy.