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The addition of small hydroelectric power stations on Placer County Water Agency’s western water system of canals and pipelines was reported at Monday’s (July 8) PCWA Board of Directors’ meeting.
In a presentation to the Board, Deputy Director of Technical Services Brent Smith said Placer County’s topography and water delivery system makes the addition of small hydro facilities a practical option. “We have a lot of opportunity for small hydro in our western water system,” said Smith, who noted that over the years some 60 potential sites have been identified but only a few are worthy of development.
PCWA owns and operates the Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Power Project since the 1960s, which produces significantly more energy than the smaller retrofit plants now being studied. For example, the Middle Fork Project produces an average 1 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy per year, while three small hydro plants now in planning would generate 4.3 million kilowatt hours of power per year.
The Lincoln Metering Station, where PCWA transfers water to the City of Lincoln, will be equipped with power generation in a $2.2 million project set for completion in late 2014. The plant’s power production will repay the investment in 13 years, said Smith.
Generation on the Secret Town Pipeline above Colfax is also in planning. Smith said the estimated $1.7 million hydro addition would generate sufficient revenues to repay its investment in nine years.”
The third current project is on the Gold Run Pipeline, also located on the Boardman Canal above Colfax. It’s an estimated $980,000 addition, also with a nine-year payback period.
The agency has recently begun studies on a fourth project which would add hydroelectric generation at Long Ravine near Colfax, Smith noted.
The board will meet in adjourned session at 2 p.m. on Thursday (July 11) at the PCWA Business Center, 144 Ferguson Road, in Auburn. PCWA board meetings are open to the public.