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Small Hydroelectric Power Stations added in Placer County

AUBURN -- The addition of small hydroelectric power stations on Placer County Water Agency's western water system of canals and pipelines was reported at Monday's (July 8) PCWA Board of Directors' meeting.

In a presentation to the Board, Deputy Director of Technical Services Brent Smith said Placer County's topography and water delivery system makes the addition of small hydro facilities a practical option.  "We have a lot of opportunity for small hydro in our western water system," said Smith, who noted that over the years some 60 potential sites have been identified but only a few are worthy of development.

PCWA owns and operates the Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Power Project since the 1960s, which produces significantly more energy than the smaller retrofit plants now being studied.  For example, the Middle Fork Project produces an average 1 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy per year, while three small hydro plants now in planning would generate 4.3 million kilowatt hours of power per year.

The Lincoln Metering Station, where PCWA transfers water to the City of Lincoln, will be equipped with power generation in a $2.2 million project set for completion in late 2014.  The plant's power production will repay the investment in 13 years, said Smith.

 Generation on the Secret Town Pipeline above Colfax is also in planning.  Smith said the estimated $1.7 million hydro addition would generate sufficient revenues to repay its investment in nine years." 

 The third current project is on the Gold Run Pipeline, also located on the Boardman Canal above Colfax.  It's an estimated $980,000 addition, also with a nine-year payback period. The agency has recently begun studies on a fourth project which would add hydroelectric generation at Long Ravine near Colfax, Smith noted.

 In other business, directors:

  •  heard a report from Director of Resource Development Andy Fecko on the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's application to separate its upper and lower water and hydropower systems in its federal relicensing program.  Fecko said the agency is concerned that separation could impact water flows and reliability to Placer County.
  • received special recognition from United Way California Capital Region for the PCWA employees' 2012 campaign that raised $7600 for United Way.  Jim Shetler, vice chairman for the region; and Andy Sheehy, senior vice president for resource management; presented a certificate recognizing the agency for the Best New Campaign of 2012.
  • recognized six college students who are working and learning with the agency as summer interns.  Director of Administrative Services Michael Willihnganz said the Summer Internship Program has proven beneficial for the agency as well as students over the past several years.
  • adopted a Resolution of Appreciation for former District 2 Director Alex Ferreira, who retired from office June 6 due to health concerns.  Ferreira will be honored during special ceremonies at the board's meeting on Thursday, July 11.

 The board will meet in adjourned session at 2 p.m. on Thursday (July 11) at the PCWA Business Center, 144 Ferguson Road, in Auburn.  PCWA board meetings are open to the public.

 Information on PCWA board meetings may be obtained through the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030.  PCWA information is also posted at

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