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Power plan takes root in Fremont County  

A developer is optimistic the wind and hydro project may be online by 2014.

A Fremont County project that combines wind and hydroelectric power generation could be on line by 2014, if all goes as planned.

Mark Morley, who also plans to develop a reservoir in Pueblo County, gave an update on his Phantom Canyon Project near Penrose to the Colorado Water Congress last week.

Morley has a few water rights but envisions a new reservoir just above Brush Hollow would be used by other water rights holders looking for a place to park their water.

Morley pointed to both the Preferred Storage Options Plan and the Statewide Water Supply Initiative as identifying greater needs for off-channel storage along the Arkansas River and said both reservoir sites would fill that gap.

There are actually three potential reservoir sites at Morley’s Stonewall Springs site near the Pueblo Chemical Depot totalling 27,000 acre-feet. Morley plans to develop one of those, a 7,000 acre-foot site, by late 2009. The reservoir could be connected to a conduit that could serve communities in El Paso County.

“It would be filled with everyone else’s water,” Morley said.

In Fremont County, the Phantom Canyon reservoir could store 70,000 acre-feet, and would feature a pump-back electric generation through an “afterbay” roughly 500 feet higher in elevation, according to engineering reports by URS Engineering. The company has already begun extensive testing at the site.

Permitting, engineering and economic analysis will continue on the Phantom Canyon Project in 2008, with final design expected in 2009 and construction in 2010. Morley anticipates filling the reservoir by 2013, and generating power by 2014.

There are some preliminary water storage agreements with the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, which does not yet have the water itself. The water could be leased through a Super Ditch land fallowing, water lease management program proposed by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

Other users, as yet unidentified, could store water at Phantom Canyon, Morley said.

Combined with wind turbines, Morley is looking at generating 400 megawatts of power – or enough for 200,000 homes. The hydroelectric plant would generate power for six hours each day.

“The powerhouse would be underground,” Morley said.

Hydroelectric power has advantages over other types of power, because it would be more reliable than wind or solar electric generation – which are available only when it’s blowing or the sun is shining – and cleaner that gas generation, which is typically used to back up solar projects.

Hydro also complements wind power because the wind can be used to power the pumps necessary to move water between the larger reservoir and the smaller afterbay.

“It’s a true marriage that completes the circle,” Morley said.

Hydro power is also available more quickly than gas or coal can provide.

“You have load acceptance in less than five seconds,” Morley said.

Morley explained he did not start out to create a power-generating site when he looked at potential land development near Brush Hollow Reservoir in Fremont County, but was only looking at the possibility of expanding the existing reservoir.

Talk about the need for more water storage in the valley led him to look at an even larger project.

“We started looking at how to provide for the storage deficit, and the power generation pays for it,” Morley explained.

By Chris Woodka

The Pueblo Chieftain

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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