MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. — The City of Manitou Springs is making strides toward using renewable energy. A new hydropower system is modernizing water resources for the city and pumping clean power into the grid.
“Our environment is under stress and under challenge. We need to respond quickly and adeptly. This is a step forward,” said Mayor John Graham of Manitou Springs.
The step starts with an in-pipe hydropower system at the city’s Water Treatment Plant, which is using water to create clean, renewable energy for homes and businesses.
Water travels about three miles from the French Creek Reservoir into the hydro pipes which starts the process of treating the high-pressure water and generating electricity.
“Every 30 minutes the hydro is operating at full capacity, it generates enough electricity for one house for one day,” said Dole Grebenik, a city engineer with Manitou Springs.
Grebenik said, “The water is piped into the water treatment plant at around 250 psi. Instead of using pressure reducing valves to lower the water pressure, the high-pressure water turns a hydro turbine that generates electricity. By turning the generator, it reduces the water pressure to a much more manageable amount of around 16 psi.”
Energy not covered by the system comes from solar panels near Manitou Springs so the plant is carbon neutral year round. The hydro system runs at full production May through September but still produces power during winter.
“In the off-season, the hydro will run periodically. So, that additional electricity usage will be offset by the additional energy we generated in the summertime,” said Grebenik.
With at least a 30 year operating expectancy, this hydro turbine will provide renewable power for decades to come. City leaders say this lines up with their goal of moving toward completely clean energy for the future.
“We’re reducing the carbon footprint, not only here but in Colorado Springs and other places, by producing our own energy here to support our daily functions, which is just a smarter way of doing business,” said Jeff Jones, Director of Public Works for Manitou Springs.
The project was done in partnership with the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPA). City leaders have had the vision for the project dating back around 30 years and say they’re thrilled to see it come to fruition.