Since 1985, the City of Boulder hydroelectric program has turned water power into electricity, generated revenue, and provided sustainable, non-polluting electricity. The city owns and operates eight hydroelectric power plants, with one purchased and seven constructed over the last 20 years. The seven construced power plants were installed on exisiting water supply pipelines. No new dams or overhead transmission lines - two of the negative impacts often associated with hydroelectric power - were built.
Significant pressure develops as water flows downhill from the city’s mountain reservoirs to delivery systems in Boulder. Instead of mechanically reducing the excess pressure, the city converts it into energy by causing the flowing water to spin turbines that spin electrical generators to produce electricity. No fossil fuels are consumed and nothing is emitted in the energy conversion process.
Renewable Energy Generation and Revenue Production
In 2012, the city's eight hydroelectric facilities generated more than 35 million kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity. Since the first hydro went into service in 1985, more than 647 million kwh have been generated, producing more than $30 million in revenue for the city.
Boulder's hyrdoelectric energy production displaces the need to burn 20,500 tons of coal each year and has prevented the burning of approximately 324,000 tons of coal since 1985.
The electricity generated by the city's hydroelectric facilities is sold to Xcel Energy for delivery to their customers. In 2012, the sale of hydroelectric power produced more than $1.6 million in revenue for the city.
The city's untreated water generates electricity at three hydroelectric plants above the Betasso Water Treatment Facility. After the water is treated at Betasso it generates additional electricity at four hydro plants below Betasso. Electricity is also generated from the water returned to Boulder Creek through a hydroelectric plant owned by the city.
Much of the generation potential in the Boulder water system results from high demand during the summer months.
October 2012 Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Plant Modernization Project Celebration
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 March 2013 10:04