Representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will be in town Tuesday to get a first-hand look at planning for the city’s new hydro power facility on Castle Creek.
There will also be a public meeting Tuesday evening with city and FERC officials to explain details of the project and take questions.
Beginning at 1 p.m.,, city officials will lead site visits to five locations associated with the new hydro project. The field trip will visit diversion facilities on Castle and Maroon creeks, where the city takes its water for consumptive and hydro power purposes. There will also be visits to the existing Maroon Creek hydro facility, the water treatment plant at Thomas Reservoir and the site of the proposed new hydro plant under the Castle Creek highway bridge. Registration for the field trip closed last week. About 30 people, including two FERC representatives in from Washington, D.C., are signed up to go along.
Beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Rio Grande conference room in the building above Taster’s Pizza, the city will hold a meeting open to the general public. The meeting’s purpose is to “present information and have a dialogue,” said David Hornbacher, the city’s director of utilities and environmental initiatives.
The meeting kicks off a 60-day comment period with the feds where the public is invited to weigh in on the project as FERC considers granting a license. The city is proposing to build a plant taking up to 52 cubic feet per second of water from Castle and Maroon creeks to feed a generator that could produce an average of 6.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year.
Pamela Britton of Community Engagement Associates will facilitate the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, where FERC representatives will also be in attendance.
At the meeting, the city will present information on the ecology and hydrology of the two streams from studies it has commissioned to lay the groundwork for the new plant. The city is looking for input on these studies and what else it still needs to do to go forward.
“That’s the question before us,” Hornbacher said. “What else is necessary for the licensing process?”
FERC representatives will also explain how the licensing process works, Hornbacher said.
“There’s no better place to hear that than from the FERC,” he said.
About an hour of the total scheduled agenda is dedicated to audience questions.
When the meeting wraps up at 7:30 p.m., city officials and their consultants will be on hand to answer questions and meet with audience members, Hornbacher said.