City’s hydropower system pays for itself earlier than expected

Print Article

The City of Whitefish’s hydroelectric plant generates electricity from water before it passes through the water treatment plant north of town. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

Whitefish’s hydroelectric power system is expected this spring to finish paying for itself.

The City of Whitefish in 2012 reconstructed an old, abandoned hydroelectric generation facility at the city’s water treatment plant. The water for the hydro plant comes out of Haskill Creek before passing though the hydro generator at the city’s water-supply reservoir.

A $400,000 pre-payment from Flathead Electric Co-op helped fund the project, along with a $200,000 federal grant. Under the agreement with FEC, the co-op pre-purchased 6,650,000 kilowatt hours of power to be generated by the facility. At the time it was estimated that it would take up to eight years to generate the electricity to complete the agreement, but the pay-off is expected to occur roughly 15 months sooner than expected.

Public Works Director Craig Workman said the city has long been a proponent of energy conservation and utilizing clean energy to the greatest extent possible.

“This is up there on the top of the list of sustainable projects the city has ever done,” Workman said. “It has been a total success and it was paid off in less time than we thought.”

Workman said the hydro system fits in with the ideas in the city’s Climate Action Plan adopted in 2018.

“The success of the hydroelectric system has made us look at other possible places we could employ them,” he said. “It would be hard to find a place that would have the same output as this one, but we’ve looked at where else we could put one.”

The electricity generated from the hydroelectric system moving forward will be supplied back to the FEC grid and be paid for by offsetting the electricity requirements of the water treatment plant and the wastewater treatment plant.

Flathead Electric began accepting power into their grid from the facility on Reservoir Road in September 2012. The hydroelectric system generates between 35,000 kilowatt hours to 131,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month depending on stream flows.

The original hydroelectric facility was installed at the city reservoir in 1983, but serious damage occurred to the equipment on two occasions. Within the first few years of its operation, debris entered the turbine and damaged the Pelton wheel. A new Pelton wheel manufactured in Anaconda was used at the Whitefish plant, but a lightning strike in 1989 or 1990 burned parts of the generator and put the facility out of operation.

Print Article

Read More

Oktoberfest event searching for next Hop Queen

September 19, 2019 at 7:24 am | Whitefish Pilot Organizers of the 10th annual Great Northwest Oktoberfest are searching for the next Hop Queen. This year’s Oktoberfest is Sept. 26-28 and Oct. 3-5 at Smith Fields. A Hop Queen is crowned each year ...

Comments

Read More

Whitefish grad honored for creating positive change

September 19, 2019 at 5:46 am | Whitefish Pilot Micah McFeely describes herself as an advocate for justice and equity, and often asks herself an important question in her job looking to improve the lives of students at Montana State University. ...

Comments

Read More

Nurse Becky Cox named hospital’s Caregiver of Year

September 19, 2019 at 5:46 am | Whitefish Pilot Registered Nurse Becky Cox says working in the emergency department gives her the chance to be the source of comfort on what may be one of the worst days of their lives. “We encounter many different...

Comments

Read More

Community briefs for Sept. 18

September 18, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Whitefish Pilot Science Quencher The Whitefish Lake Institute is hosting a Science Quencher event on Friday, Sept. 27 from 4-7 p.m. at the mezzanine of the Firebrand Hotel. Complimentary beer, wine and appetizers w...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 862-3505
312 E. Second Street
Whitefish, MT 59937

©2019 Whitefish Pilot Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X