Aspen after more hydro-power |

Aspen after more hydro-power

Mark Fox/The Aspen Times Aspen public works director Phil Overeynder hopes to see a new hydroelectric plant making electricity from the water in Castle Creek.

ASPEN – An attempt to re-establish Aspen’s original hydroelectric plant, past Castle Creek just under the Highway 82 bridge, is not just an attempt to reconstruct the past in this history-crazed city.If the federal permitting process goes well, the new hydro station should help provide Aspen with even more electricity, which, because of the two other working hydro plants – one on Maroon Creek and the other near Ruedi Reservoir – makes this one of the least expensive cities for electricity in the state.

Aspen currently gets about a third of its power via hydroelectric generation plants. Rebuilding the Castle Creek plant according to plan would provide the city with an additional 8 to 10 percent of its electric needs, Public Works Director Phil Overeynder said. Aspen was actually the first city west of the Mississippi to provide for all its municipal electricity needs via hydro power.”The original plant served the city from the time it was constructed in 1887 until it was taken off line in the late-’50s,” Overeynder said. “Many mines were powered by hydro in the 1880s, but we were the first city in the West to be powered totally by one hydro plant.”

Aspen’s self-sufficient hydro era ended when the federal government came in and offered power for a fraction of the cost of locally generated electricity, Overeynder said. But, with electricity generation increasingly dependent upon gas- and coal-powered plants hundreds of miles way, Aspen has been rediscovering its historic power-generation roots.Overeynder estimates it will cost $2 million to $2.5 million to resurrect the hydro plant on Castle Creek. That money would come from Aspen’s coffers, but the power it generates would then be sold back to the city’s electrical authority, which would then resell it to local consumers.

Overeynder says he has received the blessing of the city government, and that he plans to go forward with the permitting process, in hopes that construction might begin next year.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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