Approval of the Meeker Wenschhof hydroelectric project, which is to be located on an existing irrigation pipeline near the town of Meeker in Rio Blanco County, was completed in two months under the new process. The project will consist of a powerhouse containing one generating unit with an installed capacity of 23kW and an average annual generation of 100,000kWh.

In signing the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Colorado in August 2010, FERC said it had seen rising interest among entities seeking to develop small, low-impact hydropower projects. Federal surveys have identified several hundred potential small hydropower projects of smaller than 5MW in Colorado with a combined capacity of more than 1400MW. These projects have the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting Colorado’s energy needs while helping to satisfy Colorado’s new Renewable Energy Standard and create related business opportunities.

“Small hydro is a renewable resource that has tremendous potential,” FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said. “FERC and Colorado have shown their commitment to moving these projects forward knowing that, ultimately, it will benefit consumers and help create jobs. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The MOU signed by FERC and Colorado agreed to the following:

• Colorado will develop a pilot program to test options for simplifying and streamlining procedures for authorizing conduit exemptions and small 5MW or less exemption projects while ensuring environmental safeguards;

• Colorado and FERC will identify a single point of contact for implementation of the pilot program;

• Both parties will hold quarterly teleconferences to discuss the development and implementation of the pilot program;

• Both parties will share and make publicly available all relevant economic, environmental, and technical data.

FERC will waive certain consultation requirements when all relevant resources agencies agree to do so.

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FERC, Colorado sign agreement on small hydropower