The Colorado River District has been working to gain approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to generate hydroelectric power at Wolford Mountain Reservoir's Ritschard Dam. Adding clean energy production to the operation of Wolford Mountain Reservoir would capitalize on the reservoir's releases of water to downstream water users, increasing its benefit to all Coloradans.
Hydroelectric power generation would bring yet another beneficial use to Wolford Mountain Reservoir. Already, the reservoir:
- Provides stored water for municipal and agricultural use;
- Releases additional water for the benefit of endangered fish species;
- Is a tremendous recreational resource for fishing and boating;
- Gives an economic boost to Grand County; and
- Has increased the wetlands value by repairing previously damaged riparian areas below the dam.
If this project becomes reality, Colorado will gain an additional source of economical, nonpolluting and renewable energy. Ritschard Dam was designed to accommodate the possibility of future hydroelectric generation, precluding the need for significant retrofitting.
To install hydroelectric generation at Wolford Mountain Reservoir's Ritschard Dam, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will have to approve of the project.
FERC is a federal agency that watches over natural gas, hydroelectric, petroleum and electrical generation. It monitors production and transmission of these energy sources on behalf of the public's welfare.
FERC took over the role of regulating hydropower from the Federal Power Commission in 1977. FERC regulates more than 2,600 hydroelectric generating facilities in the U.S. and ensures their compliance with federal rules and guidelines.
Because the concept for the Wolford Mountain power generation project calls for production of less than 5 megawatts, project planners are pursuing an exemption to the standard licensing process.
Exemptions are a common method of obtaining FERC approval for smaller hydropower projects added onto existing dam structures, and approximately 60 percent of all FERC permitted projects are exempted.
The exemption process still provides ample opportunity for public input on the approval of this project. Local, state and federal governmental agencies will also be a part of the approval process.
Wolford Technical Reports
The Colorado River Water Conservation District will post project documents pertaining to hydropower permitting process at Wolford Reservoir on this page.Preliminary Permit:Licensing Process:Progress Reports: