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Raleigh hires consultant for Falls Lake hydroelectric project

Posted January 3, 2012

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— The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to hire a consultant to oversee plans to develop a hydroelectric facility at Falls Lake Dam.

City officials still must negotiate a contract with Charlotte-based Black & Veatch for its services. The firm is expected to develop funding options for the design and construction of the dam.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted Raleigh a preliminary permit to conduct studies and prepare a license application for the hydroelectric project.

A study by the city found that such a project, costing $5 million to $7 million, is feasible under certain economic conditions. Officials have said electricity generated from the dam would be enough to power several hundred homes.

Falls Lake is a major source of drinking water for Raleigh and several Wake County towns, but officials have said a hydroelectric dam wouldn't impact the body of water.

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  • tpatnode Jan 4, 2012

    I'm not sure if it's still the case, but Progress Energy in the past has paid more per kilowatt hour for electricity produced by old refurbished hydroelectric plants than it in turn charges for kilowatt hours used. Thus, it would be more profitable for the City to sell the kilowatt hours produced by this venture to Progress Energy than to reuse it themselves to power pumps.

  • fayncmike Jan 4, 2012

    "OK, so it doesn't go dry every year. In times of drought which will have priority, electricity or drinking water ??? Also note that we are talking about only a few hundred homes, not the whole city.
    Ol Forrester"

    I don't know how to break this to you but the water that floes through a hydroelectric dam is no different from the water that flows down a spillway of a non hydroelectric dam.

  • OmegaBaby Jan 4, 2012

    bassplayer4x4: "Why not route the electricity produced by the new dam back to the water treatment plant? Then reduce taxpayers water bill."

    The only way you can "route" electricity is to run a special power line between the dam and water treatment plant. But why would you do that? The dam can simply feed power into the grid, and the water treatment plant would continue to take power from the grid. The profit from operating the dam could be used to offset water bills. It's the same as your scenario, except there's no "routing" involved.

  • monkeyboy Jan 4, 2012

    "Why not route the electricity produced by the new dam back to the water treatment plant? Then reduce taxpayers water bill."

    it wouldn't reduce any water bills. they're higher than they used to be to discourage people from using/ wasting so much water.

  • monkeyboy Jan 4, 2012

    "OK, so it doesn't go dry every year. In times of drought which will have priority, electricity or drinking water ??? Also note that we are talking about only a few hundred homes, not the whole city." - ol forrester

    as hp277 pointed out, the water's gonna be flowing out regardless, and you can't take water out for drinking use after it's below a certain level anyway. and it's not like that electricity is earmarked for a specific neighborhood or anything. power generated goes into the big pile o' juice known as the grid, where people tap it as necessary. and why not get it where you can, as green as you can?

  • OmegaBaby Jan 4, 2012

    Ol Forrester: "OK, so it doesn't go dry every year. In times of drought which will have priority, electricity or drinking water ???"

    Drinking water of course. But you seem to be under the impression that these houses would be on their own separate electric grid, and if the dam stopped producing electricity, those houses would go dark. That's not how the grid works. The electricity in your house comes from a variety of sources, not just the closest power plant.

    Also, a certain quantity of water MUST constantly be released for downstream communities. The Neuse River is NEVER allowed to go completely dry. So there's always water being released from Falls Lake, and so it would always be producing some amount of electricity.

    fayncmike - You misunderstand my argument. I'm not against green electricity. But if there's profit to be made, I'd prefer Raleigh taxpayers to benefit since it's our property.

  • readyforchngin2012 Jan 4, 2012

    Why not route the electricity produced by the new dam back to the water treatment plant? Then reduce taxpayers water bill. Since City of Raleigh taxpayers are holding the risks with their tax monies, they should receive some reward. Plus I would think a totally green water treatment plant would be a feather in the cap of the City. The dam plus the solar collectors should power the facility with likely some left over to sell back to Duke/Progress.

  • Ol Forrester Jan 4, 2012

    OK, so it doesn't go dry every year. In times of drought which will have priority, electricity or drinking water ??? Also note that we are talking about only a few hundred homes, not the whole city.

  • fayncmike Jan 4, 2012

    "First of all, no...it doesn't go dry every year. Second of all, even if that were true, it would still be producing clean electricity for the remainder of the year. The water is flowing out of the dam anyway...why not turn that into clean electricity?

    This is a city dam, which means it's owned by YOUR local government who represent the people of Raleigh. It's PUBLIC property, meaning it's owned by the public. It's YOUR dam, people! If Raleigh can make some profit using this dam, that profit could be used to offset property taxes. Why on God's Green Earth would you just give it away for free to benefit no one but wealthy investors?
    OmegaBaby"

    Whatever electricity it produces will be green energy that doesn't have to come from some filthy fossil fueled power plant. We need to produce every bit of clean energy we can and hopefully shut down those pollution spewing fossil fueld plants.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jan 4, 2012

    The logic of private is that the private investors would take on the risk (i.e. cost overruns) for a greater share of the profits. Only problem with that is that they always seem to negotiate it in a way that tax payers still cover the private company's risk. I say Raleigh build it yourself, do a good job, and reap the benefits.

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