Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Modernization

Boulder, Colorado, United States

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The City of Boulder, Colorado (the City) is modernizing its existing 20 MW Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric facility. Originally constructed in 1910, it has two 10 MW Pelton turbines that are operated for peaking power. A portion of the Boulder Creek water is diverted at Barker Reservoir at elevation 8170 feet near the town of Nederland to Kossler Reservoir and then drops 1800 feet before being discharged through the hydro facility back to Boulder Creek. Technical challenges associated with modernization of this 100-year-old plant result from the very high pressure water supply, age of equipment, and operations associated with its incorpora­tion into a municipal water supply system. The City’s water usage has changed since the original construction and much of the water previously used for peaking power is now deliv­ered to the City’s Water Treatment Plant for municipal use. AECOM completed a feasibility study for the City integrating municipal water supply reliability and hydropower generation in 2005. The study showed that a single 5 MW unit at Boulder Canyon Hydro would be adequate based on operational changes.

AECOM assisted the City to receive funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for a Renewable Energy Research and Development grant being offered by the Department of Energy. The project is one of the seven projects across the country that was approved in November 2009. AECOM is designated to provide support for the design, construction drawings specifications, and construction observation for the new turbine, generator and controls equipment.