The Atlantic: A 200,000-mile ‘canyon of fire’ erupts through the atmosphere of the sun

October 28, 2013

Greeley’s wastewater treatment plant wins awards for energy efficiency

October 22, 2013
Wastewater Treatment Process

Wastewater Treatment Process

Here’s the release from the City of Greeley:

Greeley’s Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) recently received statewide recognition for sustainability and energy reduction from the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program and the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge. The awards ceremonies occurred on October 17 in Denver.

For its energy reduction programs, the WPCF received the Partner of the Year award from the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge (CIEC). The wastewater plant reduced energy use from 2011-2012 by 11.5 percent. Greeley received the top honor and only six other organizations were recognized. The program acknowledges achievements in energy efficiency for large industrial facilities with more than $300,000 in annual energy costs.

The second award is from the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program (CELP).The WPCF received a Bronze Award for its efforts to reduce energy use at the wastewater treatment plant. The CELP is a voluntary program that encourages and rewards superior environmental performers that go beyond the requirements of environmental regulations and move toward the goal of sustainability.

The WPCF has recently implemented several projects that have contributed to the decrease of energy use. The 2011 installation of high-speed turbo blowers improved aeration at the plant, increased energy efficiency, and lowered energy costs. In 2012, 2,106 solar panels were installed making it the largest solar farm in Weld County. Greeley’s Water and Sewer Department will continue to find ways to make the WPCF and other facilities more energy and cost efficient.

Greeley recently scored some grant money from the state. Here’s the release from the City of Greeley:

Gov. John Hicklooper announced today that 21 municipal wastewater and sanitation districts throughout Colorado will receive a total of $14.7 million in state grants to help with the planning, design and construction of facility improvements to meet new nutrient standards. The City of Greeley’s Water Pollution Control Facility will receive a total of $80,000 for planning and $1 million for design and construction.

“Greeley is in the forefront of water quality and water management. This grant simply helps the City do its job with less cost to residents,” stated Greeley Mayor Tom Norton.

Excessive nutrients harm water bodies by stimulating algae blooms that consume oxygen, kill aquatic organisms and ultimately lead to smaller populations of game and fish. While nutrients are naturally occurring, other contributors include human sewage, emissions from power generators and automobiles, lawn fertilizers and pet waste.

“Coloradoans in rural and urban areas will benefit from these new water standards that improve and protect our water,” Hickenlooper said. “This grant funding will help communities offset the costs of bringing their systems into compliance. In addition, the grants announced today will help ensure safe and healthy water for wildlife, agriculture, recreation and drinking water purposes.”

The state’s Water Quality Control Commission adopted new standards in September 2012 to help prevent harmful nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, from reaching state waters. The new regulation requires certain larger domestic wastewater treatment facilities to meet effluent limits for nutrients.

The Nutrient Grant Program will help wastewater facilities with the costs of planning for, designing and implementing system improvements. Funding for the program was made available through HB13-1191 “Nutrient Grant Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant,” sponsored by Reps. Randy Fischer and Ed Vigil and Sens. Gail Schwartz and Angela Giron.

There are about 400 municipal wastewater systems in Colorado. The new nutrient standards apply to about 40 systems and will have the greatest impact on the waters of the state.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

CWCB: State of Colorado Receives Partners in Conservation Award

October 18, 2012


Here’s the release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ted Kowalski):

The State of Colorado, as well as the other cooperating partners in the Colorado River Supply and Demand Basin Study (“Colorado River Basin Study” or “Basin Study”), were presented today with the prestigious “Partners in Conservation Award” by the Department of the Interior. This award was presented by Deputy Secretary David Hayes in recognition of the cooperation between these different entities on one of the most pressing natural resources issues in the Unites States–the future of the Colorado River basin.

The Colorado River Basin Study is the most comprehensive effort to date to quantify and address future supply and demand imbalances in the Colorado River Basin. The Basin Study evaluates the reliability of the water dependent resources, and also outlines potential options and strategies to meet or reduce imbalances that are consistent with the existing legal framework governing the use and operation of the Colorado River. To date, the Basin Study has published a number of interim reports and appendices, and the final report of the Basin Study is scheduled to be published by the end of November, 2012.

Jennifer Gimbel, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and Ted Kowalski, Chief of the Interstate, Federal and Water Information Section of the Colorado Water Conservation Board accepted the award on behalf of the State of Colorado. “The Basin Study reflects the cooperative spirit in which the Colorado River Basin States have worked since the adoption of the 2007 Interim Guidelines,” Gimbel said.“Colorado and the other Basin States, the tribes, the federal government, and the many diverse stakeholders must continue to work together in order to address the difficult water imbalances facing the southwestern United States in the next half century. It is clear that there are no silver bullets, but rather we must explore and develop multiple options and strategies in order to meet our projected future water supply/demand imbalance.”

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants: Electricity’s Thirst for a Precious Resource (2011) — Union of Concerned Scientists

October 15, 2012


Here’s a guest commentary about the report, running in The Denver Post (Alice Madden/Peter C. Frumhoff). Here’s an excerpt:

Electricity generation from coal and nuclear plants requires water — a lot of water compared to other fuel sources — to cool the steam they produce to make electricity. In Colorado, coal plants consumed some 80,000 acre-feet of water for cooling in 2008. That’s enough water to supply the city of Boulder for four years, or Denver for four months.

Colorado’s water consumption rates in energy production were highlighted in a recent report of the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative, a research collaboration between the Union of Concerned Scientists and a team of more than a dozen national scientists, including local experts at the University of Colorado, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Western Resource Advocates.

For most conventional coal plants, the bottom line is this: To keep the lights on, keep the water coming. It’s easy to ignore this dependence when there’s plenty of water. But in a water-constrained future, is heavy reliance on coal the best choice when we have smart water energy choices?

Although extracting natural gas via hydraulic fracturing is placing growing demands on water resources, an efficient natural gas plant consumes far less water than a coal plant. And some, like the Front Range plant in Colorado Springs, cool with air instead of water.

By contrast, wind and solar photovoltaics use virtually no water, making them smart energy choices for water-constrained states. Fortunately, Colorado has had impressive growth in both. That’s thanks in part to the Renewable Portfolio Standard law that requires investor-owned utilities Xcel Energy and Black Hills to produce at least 30 percent of the energy they generate from renewable sources by 2020, a goal both companies will meet easily. The remaining utilities, which provide about 40 percent of the state’s energy, must only meet a 10 percent RPS and rely heavily on coal.

Here’s the link to the report: Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants: Electricity’s Thirst for a Precious Resource (2011). Here’s the executive summary:

Across the country, water demand from power plants is combining with pressure from growing populations and other needs and straining water resources—especially during droughts and heat waves:

• The 2011 drought in Texas created tension among farmers, cities, and power plants across the state. At least one plant had to cut its output, and some plants had to pipe in water from new sources. The state power authority warned that several thousand megawatts of electrical capacity might go offline if the drought persists into 2012.

• As drought hit the Southeast in 2007, water providers from Atlanta to Raleigh urged residents to cut their water use. Power plants felt the heat as well. In North Carolina, customers faced blackouts as water woes forced Duke Energy to cut output at its G.G. Allen and Riverbend coal plants on the Catawba River. Meanwhile the utility was scrambling to keep the water intake system for its McGuire nuclear plant underwater. In Alabama, the Browns Ferry nuclear plant had to drastically cut its output (as it has in three of the last five years) to avoid exceeding the temperature limit on discharge water and killing fish in the Tennessee River.

• A 2006 heat wave forced nuclear plants in the Midwest to reduce their output when customers needed power most. At the Prairie Island plant in Minnesota, for example, the high temperature of the Mississippi River forced the plant to cut electricity generation by more than half.

• In the arid Southwest, power plants have been contributing to the depletion of aquifers, in some cases without even reporting their water use.

• On New York’s Hudson River, the cooling water intakes of the Indian Point nuclear plant kill millions of fish annually, including endangered shortnose sturgeon. This hazard to aquatic life now threatens the plant as well. Because operators have not built a new cooling system to protect fish, state regulators have not yet approved the licenses the operators need to keep the plant’s two reactors running past 2013 and 2015.

• Proposed power plants have also taken hits over water needs. Local concerns about water use have scuttled planned facilities in Arizona, Idaho, Virginia, and elsewhere. Developers of proposed water-cooled concentrating solar plants in California and Nevada have run into opposition, driving them toward dry cooling instead.

This report—the first on power plant water use and related water stress from the Energy and Water in a Warming World initiative—is the first systematic assessment of both the effects of power plant cooling on water resources across the United States and the quality of information available to help public- and private-sector decision makers make water-smart energy choices.

Our analysis starts by profiling the water use characteristics of virtually every electricity generator in the United States. Then, applying new analytical approaches, we conservatively estimate the water use of those generators in 2008, looking across the range of fuels, power plant technologies, and cooling systems. We then use those results to assess the stress that power plant water use placed on water systems across the country. We also compare our results with those reported by power plant operators to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for 2008.

We examine both the withdrawal and consumptionof freshwater. Withdrawal is the total amount of water a power plant takes in from a source such as a river, lake, or aquifer, some of which is returned. Consumption is the amount lost to evaporation during the cooling process. Withdrawal is important for several reasons. Water intake systems can trap fish and other aquatic wildlife.

Water withdrawn for cooling but not consumed returns to the environment at a higher temperature, potentially harming fish and other wildlife. And when power plants tap groundwater for cooling, they can deplete aquifers critical for meeting many different needs. Consumption is important because it too reduces the amount of water available for other uses, including sustaining ecosystems.

While our analysis focuses on the effects of water use by power plants today, we also consider how conditions are likely to change in the future. In the short run, our choices for what kind of power plants we build can contribute to freshwater-supply stress (by consigning an imbalanced share of the available water to power plant use) and can affect water quality (by increasing water temperatures to levels that harm local ecosystems, for example). Over a longer time frame, those choices can fuel climate change, which in turn may also affect water quantity (through drought and other extreme weather events) and quality (by raising the temperature of lakes, streams, and rivers). Population growth and rising demand for water also promise to worsen water stress in many regions of the country already under stress from power plant use and other uses.

More coal coverage here and here.

‘Water Wranglers’ is George Sibley’s new book about the Colorado River District #coriver

October 10, 2012



Here’s the link to the web page where you can order a copy. Here’s the pitch:

Water Wranglers
The 75-Year History of the Colorado River District:
A Story About the Embattled Colorado River and the Growth of the West

The Colorado River is one of America’s wildest rivers in terms of terrain and natural attributes, but is actually modest in terms of water quantity – the Mississippi surpasses the Colorado’s annual flow in a matter of days. Yet the Colorado provides some or all of the domestic water for some 35 million Southwesterners, most of whom live outside of the river’s natural course in rapidly growing desert cities. It fully or partially irrigates four-million acres of desert land that produces much of America’s winter fruits and vegetables. It also provides hundreds of thousands of people with recreational opportunities. To put a relatively small river like the Colorado to work, however, has resulted in both miracles and messes: highly controlled use and distribution systems with multiplying problems and conflicts to work out, historically and into the future.

Water Wranglers is the story of the Colorado River District’s first seventy-five years, using imagination, political shrewdness, legal facility, and appeals to moral rightness beyond legal correctness to find balance among the various entities competing for the use of the river’s water. It is ultimately the story of a minority seeking equity, justice, and respect under democratic majority rule – and willing to give quite a lot to retain what it needs.

The Colorado River District was created in 1937 with a dual mission: to protect the interests of the state of Colorado in the river’s basin and to defend local water interests in Western Colorado – a region that produces 70 percent of the river’s total water but only contains 10 percent of the state’s population.

To order the book, visit the Wolverine Publishing website at It can also be found at the online bookseller Amazon.

More Colorado River District coverage here.

Steamboat Springs: Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference August 15 – 17

July 9, 2012


Here’s the link to the registration page. Here’s the description of the event (Meg Meyer):

The 2012 Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference will include water and energy interests once again as we combine forces and explore areas of common interest. The theme of the conference is The Balance of Power. We will spin the concept several different ways as we look at the balance of political power, the balance of governance, and the balance of energy and water sources.

Immediately preceding the CWC Summer Conference, the Colorado Coal and Power Generation group will hold an all-day event at the Holiday Inn in Craig on Tuesday, August 14th which will include a golf tournament and evening barbeque.

In addition, the Interim Water Resources Review Committee will meet in Steamboat, Tuesday afternoon, for their first substantive meeting to prepare for the 2013 legislative session.

The CWC Summer Conference will be held August 15th through August17th at the Sheraton in Steamboat Springs.

We will have three workshops on Wednesday morning covering topics of drought and current weather conditions, public trust, and endangered species. We will try something a little different this year with the conference kicking off with a luncheon on Wednesday. General Sessions will follow on Wednesday afternoon. An evening open public forum will held on Wednesday at 7:30 pm (attendance is optional for water and energy professionals).

We will have networking breakfasts on Thursday or Friday – a light continental breakfast will be served, but no formal speaker. The hotel restaurant or other local venues are available for those that prefer a heartier breakfast. General Sessions will be held on Thursday from 9:00 to 12:00. On Thursday afternoon, we will offer a couple of tours or you may want to use this time to catch up on other business. The POND Committee is also planning outdoor activities. We will have a reception on Thursday evening at 5:00. The Friday morning format will be similar to Thursday and the conference will conclude with a box lunch.

State of the Rockies Project: Will and Zak release a new video — ‘A Paddler’s Perspective on the Colorado River Delta’

March 12, 2012


Here’s the link to the video. Will and Zak paddled from the headwaters of the Green River to the Colorado River Delta as researchers for Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Aquate Group reservoir covers lessen evaporation and generate solar energy in Israel

November 29, 2011


Here’s the release from the Aquate Group:


Aquate Group Ltd. signs landmark agreement with Chevrat Moshve Hanegev to increase national water resources, enable increased agricultural production in the Negev, and generate clean energy without exploiting land

 Aquate’s infrastructure investment will total approximately NIS 300,000,000 (U.S. $80 million)

 Through Aquate’s reservoir enhancement services the four Chevrat Moshve Hanegev reservoirs can increase their total water availability by 900,000 cubic meters of water each year

 Aquate’s infrastructure will add 1500 dunams [now defined as exactly one decare (1000 m²)] of irrigated agricultural land in the Negev

 Aquate’s infrastructure, which is installed only on a reservoir’s water surface, will preserve over 460 dunams of land from exploitation

 Aquate’s infrastructure will provide 16 megawatts of clean solar energy capacity

Aquate Group Ltd. (“Aquate”) and Chevrat Moshve Hanegev have entered into an unprecedented long-term cooperation agreement this week under which Aquate will provide Israel’s largest agricultural company with Aquate’s reservoir enhancement and clean energy infrastructure and services. Under the agreement, Aquate’s services will increase the volume and quality of water available for irrigation from Chevrat Moshve Hanegev reclaimed water reservoirs.

Aquate regional companies provide water reservoir enhancement and clean energy infrastructure and services throughout the world. Under this initial agreement in Israel, Aquate plans to invest NIS 300 million ($80 million). This investment by Aquate will increase the total amount of water available in the Chevrat Moshve Hanegev reservoirs, improve water quality in the reservoirs, enable the irrigation of new land devoted to agriculture, and prevent overuse of open areas.

Shimon Tal, Israel’s former Water Commissioner, Director of Aquate Group Ltd., and President of Aquate’s operations in Israel remarked, “Israel’s numerous irrigation reservoirs are critical to supporting agricultural production in Israel as well as to reducing pressure on supplies of drinking water. The services Aquate is providing Israel will produce clean electricity on a large scale and enhance the capacity of these reservoirs to support agricultural production without interfering with the operation of the reservoirs. The Aquate team has experience planning and installing cover systems on hundreds of reservoirs around the world, and that experience spans over more than thirty years. By implementing existing knowledge and methods in the design and installation of reservoir covers, we can provide a system-wide solution that will preserve and enhance the original designation of the reservoirs for agriculture.”

Aquate provides reservoir enhancement services by installing on water reservoirs a proprietary flexible floating cover, durable for twenty-five years or more, that incorporates photovoltaic cells and water quality monitoring and treatment systems. The company will begin installing reservoir enhancement and clean energy infrastructure and services in Israel this year.

“We believe that this cooperation is one of the most important ones we have undertaken,” said Ilan Peretz, CEO of Chevrat Moshve Hanegev. “For our company, Aquate’s reservoir enhancement infrastructure and services will prevent income loss that we have suffered in the past due to declining water quality and evaporation. At the local and national level, the Negev and Israel will benefit from increased agricultural outputs and an increase in water availability. Of equal importance, our farmers can proudly play a leading role in achieving the country’s ambitious renewable energy goals without having to relinquish precious farm land to do so.”

According to Barak Yekutiely, the Chairman and CEO of Aquate Group Ltd., “We believe this is the right approach to predictable development of large scale renewable energy sources that reduce dependence on fossil fuel generated electricity while increasing food and water supplies and preserving green open spaces. Aquate provides proven solutions that enhance and maintain national resources – in Israel’s case significantly increasing national water resources and agricultural output and protecting rather than exploiting scarce land for clean energy generation.”

* Aquate Group Ltd. develops sustainable assets on a global basis through regional operating companies that provide both climate change mitigation and adaptation services. Aquate’s regional operating companies deliver two primary services: reservoir enhancement to reservoir owners and operators and clean energy generation for electric utility companies. Through the delivery of these two bundled services, Aquate provides additional climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits such as reducing the need to build new power generation facilities on scarce agricultural land; promoting biodiversity; and stimulating increased agricultural production through greater availability of water at higher quality levels.

** Chevrat Moshve Hanegev is Israel’s largest agricultural company and is a partnership between 34 Moshavim which cultivate over 150,000 dunams. The company was established in 1958 and specializes in field crops (wheat, potatoes, peanuts, sunflower, chickpeas, corn and carrots), citrus fruits, almonds, pomegranates and more.

More coverage from (Shifra Mincer). From the article:

At Watec Israel, an international conference and exhibition on water technologies, renewable energy and environmental control, hosted from November 15-17 this year in Tel Aviv, Israeli national water company Mekorot agreed to a 20-year lease of a 100,000 square meter reservoir to Israel-based Aquate Group. Aquate specializes in floating reservoir covers that prevent a significant amount of the water from evaporating while providing a platform for renewable energy generation.

According to Aquate, the 20-year project with Mekorot will save 4 million cubic meters of water from evaporating and will create about 6 MW of clean power for the Israeli grid. Aquate will bear the operations and maintenance costs of the project.

“Signed in the national level and alongside national committees for assessing best options for green growth, this agreement may position Israel as a leading national actor that quantifies the economic costs of alternative solutions as well as conventional solutions with the aim of maximizing national long-term economic benefits,” said Aquate Group Marketing Communications Director Maya Ben Dror.

More conservation coverage here. More solar coverage here.

Energy policy: Renewable energy installations are increasingly being co-located with water reuse, reclamation and desalinisation facilities

October 10, 2011


From (Jerome Muys/Van Hilderbrand):

One approach to reducing greenhouse gases has been more reliance on renewable energy. But energy projects, both conventional and renewable, typically require large amounts of water. That means the long-term physical and legal availability of water resources will play an important role in the siting of renewable energy facilities.

In the U.S., federal programs such as the Endangered Species Act and the push to reserve water rights for parks, wilderness areas and tribal lands are further limiting water availability for development.

To remedy this, two trends are emerging. First is an effort to co-locate renewable energy projects with water reuse, reclamation and desalinisation facilities. Second is a growing interest in new water conservation technologies being developed in Israel and other countries which have a long experience of dealing with water shortages.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Colorado College State of the Rockies Project releases ‘Conservation in the West’ survey: Westerners favor environmental protection

February 25, 2011

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Here’s the release from the State of the Rockies Project:

Majority of Western Voters Believe Environmental Protections, Strong Economy Can Co-Exist

First-ever “Conservation in the West Survey” measures voters’ environmental attitudes in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — A new bi-partisan poll of inter-mountain West voters shows that a strong majority (77 percent) believe that environmental standards and a strong economy can co- exist. The findings, from the first-ever “Conservation in the West Survey,” reveal differences and many points of agreement among voters on issues such as conservation, regulations, renewable energy and other environmental issues.

The poll, conducted by Lori Weigel at Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz at Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm), measured environmental attitudes of 2,200 voters in the five Western states January 23-27, 2011. The survey is being released by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, which, for the past eight years, has worked to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rockies through annual report cards, free events, discussions and other activities.

“This research underscores an interesting and important trend in these five states,” said Walt Hecox, Ph.D., professor at Colorado College and director of the State of the Rockies Project. “While there are differences of opinion on a range of issues, there are true common values shared between each state, including a commitment to protect the important natural resources that make this region so unique.”

“Particularly interesting is the emergence of renewable energy sources – such as solar and wind power – as a much more attractive option over traditional fossil fuels,” added Hecox. (According to the results, voters indicate more positive impressions of solar and wind power as energy sources than they do for coal or oil.) “Voters see renewable energy as producing jobs, and they have ambitious goals for using more of these sources to supply their states’ overall energy needs.”

[Click here for] some of the key findings. To view the executive summary or entire report, please visit:

More coverage from David O. Williams writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

Conducted by both a Republican and Democratic polling firm and produced for the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, the “Conservation in the West” survey found that voters thought the average percentage of their state’s electricity coming from renewable resources should be about 65 percent.

Generally expressing more positive impressions of solar and wind power than coal or oil (with the exception of Wyoming residents), 77 percent of all those surveyed felt environmental standards and a strong economy can co-exist. And 65 percent said they disagree that renewable energy is “too unreliable to be a significant part of our energy supply.”

And a majority of voters in all five states (70 percent), which also included New Mexico, Montana and Utah, said it’s “time to start replacing coal with other energy sources like wind and solar power.”

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The “Conservation in the West” survey, commissioned by Colorado College and released this morning, also found that two thirds of voters believe current laws protecting air, land and water should be strengthened or better enforced. Even when offered an economic rationale for relaxing environmental standards, 77 percent of voters surveyed said standards that apply to major industries must be maintained. Only 18 percent favored relaxing standards in an effort to boost the economy and generate jobs. The survey indicates most voters consider environmental protection and a strong economy to be compatible goals.

A majority in every state where voters were surveyed – Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – said they favor replacing coal with other energy sources such as wind and solar power. And 54 percent indicated they’d be willing to pay at least ten dollars more per month to increase the use of renewable energy to generate electricity in their state.

Energy policy — solar: Water requirements dictate solutions in the San Luis Valley

January 2, 2011

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

In Alamosa County, where three plants have secured power purchase agreements with Xcel Energy since 2009, companies have chosen to use photovoltaic technology largely because of its low water requirements. “The water has been one of the main determining factors to go with photovoltaic over some other types of solar plants,” said Craig Cotten, the division engineer in the valley for the Colorado Division of Water Resources…

The water needs for the photovoltaic plants have been met by the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District, which normally provides augmentation water for business and residential developments. The augmentation water is used to replace the depletions to the system caused by the new uses and ensure senior users are not injured. Mike Gibson, the district’s manager, said supplying the photovoltaic plants was no different than how it supplies its other clients, with the exception that additional agreements were needed with ditch companies to move the water to the plants. Moreover, the district also struck agreements with neighboring landowners to build recharge pits, where the replacement water filters back into the aquifer.

When solar companies began flooding the San Luis Valley with proposals that never made it off the drawing board, a number of them called for utilizing concentrated solar power, also known as solar thermal technology. Those types of plants gather the heat from the sun and use it to heat water to power a turbine. In the cases where those plants deploy a water cooling system, the need for water is large. And in the valley where all the water is already tied up, local water managers were uneasy with the proposals…

California-based SolarReserve had submitted a proposal to Saguache County that had originally called for their plant near Center to use up to 1,200 acre-feet per year. The company told the county in October that it would switch to a dry-cooling system, although it would still require up to 300 acre-feet per year. It has yet to offer details to the county on how it will get that amount of water.

More solar coverage here and here.

Energy policy — solar: Central City Town Council approves solar installation for the water treatment plant

March 20, 2010

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From the Weekly Register-Call/ Gilpin County News (Lynn Volkens):

The Aldermen approved a purchasing agreement with Sun Spot Solar, LLC to install and maintain solar panels at the Boodle Mill site to power the City’s water treatment plant which is adjacent to the Boodle. 312 panels, each about 3’ x 5’ will cover approximately 6,000 square feet of surface area. The solar system is designed to generate 135,000 Kilowatt hours per year (Kwh/yr), 125% of the monthly average energy consumption needed to operate the water plant. The 70 Kilowatt system will cost $285,000 which the City will pay to Sun Spot over a five year period. The City expects to save 57% in energy costs over the five year period ($10,499 per year, totaling $52,494). At the end of the five year period, the City will purchase the system for $9,975 (3.5% of the installation cost). Energy costs, after purchasing the system, are reduced to $0.00 (based on current consumption). The life cycle of the system is 20-25 years. The water plant remains connected to XCEL as a back-up so the plant will never be without power, however, while the solar panels generate energy, all excess power reversed the XCEL energy meter at the plant and build up a credit that the City can use if needed. With this system the City will pay a fixed rate of approximately 6.5 cents kwh ($7,935 annually) compared to the 2010 XCEL rate of 15.056 cents kwh…

Last October the Council directed the City Manager to look into outsourcing day-to-day operations of the City’s water system. The Council considered two companies and ultimately selected Ramey Environmental Compliance, Inc. (REC) to take over operations of the water plant, pumps, reservoirs and general water distribution system. REC is a Colorado certified operator. The City will pay REC $8,050 per month until the contract is terminated, which can be done by either party with 30 days’ notice. REC is to provide a certified operator daily who is to prepare a hand written report and each visit. The operator will also assist in budget preparation. Operations had been handled by an employee of the City’s Public Works Department. That employee will return to duties with that department.

Thanks to Loretta Lohman at Nonpoint Source Colorado for the link.

More solar coverage here and here.

Rio Grande roundtable meeting recap

October 18, 2009

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

The basin’s projected water demand is expected to rise from 19,900 acre-feet in 2008 to between 28,450 and 34,000 by 2050…

The [draft state report on future statewide water needs] calculates that population would grow in the basin from 49,000 now to 88,000 in 2050, based on formulas used by the Colorado State Demography Office. The draft said the Rio Grande basin may see increased demand from industry for water in the future because of oil and gas and solar energy development, although it did not quantify the demand as it did for other industries in other parts of the state. Mike Gibson, the roundtable’s chairman, said the demands of solar power on the valley’s water supply would be minimal compared with agriculture. He cited a proposal from Tessera Solar, which is one of a number under review by Xcel Energy, that would consume 10 acre-feet per year to run a 200 megawatt concentrated solar plant near Moffat. He noted that a 120-acre field of potatoes would consume 164 acre-feet annually while a similarly sized field of alfalfa that sees two cuttings would consume 310 acre-feet in a year.

More Rio Grande Basin coverage here.

American Recovery and Investment Act funds Colorado projects

August 27, 2009

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From The Denver Post (David Olinger):

Elsewhere, many of the state’s highest-priority drinking-water and wastewater projects went unfunded, including some classified as acute health hazards. That’s because to be eligible, projects had to be ready to start construction by next month. And the available dollars, $62 million, amounted to less than 2 percent of the money sought by Colorado cities, towns and districts to improve their sewer and water systems. “It’s a drop in the bucket,” said Steve Gunderson, water-quality director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. One of the biggest challenges, he said, was finding projects that also could meet a federal requirement to earmark 20 percent of the money for “green infrastructure.”

Among wastewater-treatment projects, a $1.5 million loan for solar panels in Pueblo got the green tag. Among drinking-water projects, the state gave a green light to systems with leaking pipes.

Energy policy — solar: A Carbon-Neutral Energy Supply for Each Individual

August 6, 2009

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From the Telluride Daily Planet (Lisa Christadore):

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy, Daniel Nocera, is tackling the alternative energy dilemma head on. He has designed a system that mimics photosynthesis to generate hydrogen fuel in the laboratory just as plants do in nature. On Tuesday, Nocera will present the Pinhead Town Talk, “Personalized Energy: A Carbon-Neutral Energy Supply for Each Individual (x 6 Billion People).” He will illuminate how his revolutionary invention captures sunlight and creates enough energy to potentially meet the entire world’s needs by 2050.

More energy policy coverage here.


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