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Summitville (Colorado) to generate own electricity with micro hydro plant

After decades of being one of the most polluted places on the continent, the Summitville SuperFund site is going green — at least in terms of energy costs.
Over the course of the summer field season, the January 2009 Summitville Update noted, the site clean-up required some 2,300 kilowatt hours of electrical power, costing the state of Colorado and the Environmental Protection Agency about $80,000 and energy costs will likely increase.

To defray the costs, add a measure of self-sufficency and support renewable energy, EPA and the state have begun installation of a narrow pipe penstock and turbine, comprising a micro-hydro power plant, which will capture the water power and convert it to energy as it flows downhill from the site.

Penstock construction began in 2008; turbine installation is planned later this year.

The elevation drops some 64 feet between the water treatment plant discharge point and the Wightman Fork downstream of the Summitville Dam Impoundment (SDI).

Once workers construct the micro-hydro plant, the water flowing from the treatment plant through the penstock into Wightman Fork will be “harvested” for energy to back-fee the power grid, offsetting power use at the site.

The penstock pipeline is buried under Pinos Creek Road north of the newly installed Wightman Fork arched culverts and will deliver discharge water to the turbine at about 10 cubic feet per second (cfs), generating approximately 56 kilowatts of energy, equating to a cost savings of $9,000 to $15,000 over the seven months of operation each year.

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