The Nebraska Public Power District wants to know whether more hydroelectricity can be economically developed and delivered in the state, so it's funding a study that will check on expanding existing plants and the feasibility of developing new sites.
COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - NPPD has made a $150,000 contract with Colorado-based Applegate Group for a study that's expected to be finished in April.
NPPD water resources manager Brian Barels told the Columbus Telegram (http://bit.ly/TCj8gN ) that recent research has focused on new ways to turn water's power into electrical power.
"There's a number of existing facilities around the state that might have potential with these new technologies," Barels said.
New equipment doesn't require a large reservoir. For example, Barels said, a new wastewater treatment plant planned for South Sioux City could use hydrokinetic technology to generate electricity, using water flowing from the discharge pipe.
Applegate Group will examine previous state and private studies to identify locations suitable for hydroelectricity.
There are several Nebraska spots where people would like a reservoir for recreation or flood control that could also produce power. And, Barels said, several existing dams, particularly on the Republican River, can be retrofitted for power generation.
About 8.6 percent of NPPD's power supply comes from hydroelectricity. Wind energy makes up slightly less than 4 percent, but is expected to reach 5.2 percent by year's end after wind farms near Broken Bow and Crofton begin commercial operation.
Unlike wind used for power, water can be stored for use during high-demand times and can respond more quickly than coal-fired plants, which are slow to increase output, engineers say.
NPPD owns hydropower plants near Spencer, North Platte and Kearney and buys electricity from other hydropower plants.
The utility delivers power, wholesale or retail, to nearly 1.1 million people in Nebraska.
Information from: Columbus Telegram, http://www.columbustelegram.com
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