Steamboat Springs The Stagecoach Dam and Reservoir is expected to be the first project in the nation certified by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute to generate "green power," opening up the option for dam officials to charge a premium price for wholesale electricity.
The Low Impact Hydropower Institute began accepting applications from hydropower projects last year. It announced early this month that Stagecoach dam probably would be the first to receive the institute's certification of a low-impact hydropower facility.
The dam, owned and operated by the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, must go through a 30-day public appeals period before receiving the certification on March 27, said Lydia Grimm, executive director of the Low Impact Hydropower Institute.
The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District was one of many organizations that applied for the certification last year.
"It was pretty impressive the steps that they go through," conservancy district board member Dan Birch said.
Officials at the dam had to supply a description of the project, how it is operated and then go through a review by the institute.
"I think what got this for us is the diligence and stick-to-it-ness of John Fetcher," Birch said.
Fetcher is the secretary manager of the conservancy district and initiated the application process with the institute. He could not be reached for comment.
The Low Impact Hydropower Institute is a nonprofit agency based in Washington, D.C. It has eight guidelines that a hydropower plant must meet to receive certification.
If Stagecoach gets the certification, the dam would be able to market itself as generating "green power," or power generated with low impact on the environment, Grimm said.
With the certification, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District would have the option to sell its power for a premium price.
"That is something we would hope to do," Birch said.
The hope of the institute is that the certification's power to give dam owners the ability to charge a premium price for green power is an incentive for running environmentally friendly power plants, Grimm said. Consumers then have an option to pay the premium price, knowing that it is green power, she added.
Residents in the Yampa Valley already have the option to purchase green power, generated by wind, through Yampa Valley Electric Association.
Jim Chappell, manager of consumer accounts for YVEA, said 366 consumers out of about 22,000 buy 730 blocks (100 kilowatts) of wind power from the company. They pay roughly $3 more a block for the power.