Work begins on $22 million hydro project on South Canal

 Ray Schmalz, UVWUA board member, holding a shovel on the left, breaks ground with Tony Prendergast, DMEA board president on Friday at the site of the hydro power facility along the south canal. Also pictured are Lanny Denham, Stephen Pridy, Todd Stewart, Clint Stroud, Keith Catlin, Marshall Collins, Nancy Hovde, Ken Norris, Dave Goodhue, Terry Brown, Glen Black and Les Renfrow.

Ground was officially and symbolically broken Friday along Montrose’s South Canal just below the outflow of the Gunnison Tunnel for a $22 million hydroelectric project. Dozens of area citizens, elected officials and members of the Delta-Montrose Electrical Association and the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association stood up to a strong breeze to catch a glimpse of some of the project components which will be constructed and buried between now and the estimated completion date of July 2013. 

The project will actually consist of two sites separated by a little more than a mile. The sites were selected from five identified more than 20 years ago as having a gradient steep enough to efficiently generate power without requiring a dam. From those two sites, DMEA will produce more than 6,000 kilowatts of power, which converts to 27 million kilowatt hours of electricity — enough to power more than 3,000 homes.

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