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Power up when you flush?

Nov 26, 2010 10:05 am
The Watershed Post has an update on a story that's been percolating around the region for years, involving the rural Delaware Electric Cooperative's wish to adapt European technological advences to New York City's reservoir system upstate, generating local power via mini-generators in gravity-fueled waqter tunnels.

Implications ae that the system could eventually be adapted to all municipal water and sewer systems for energy creation. Talk about powering the lights every time one flushes!

"After being courted for years by an upstate electric cooperative seeking to develop hydropower on city-owned dams, the agency that runs New York City's water supply says it finally wants to tango. But it may be too late," the Watershed Post reports this morning. "In a press release issued on Monday, the agency announced that it is looking for partners in the private sector to help them develop hydroelectric power on four reservoirs: the Schoharie, Cannonsville, Pepacton, and Neversink."

The obvious candidate to build the generators would seem to be the Delaware County Electric Cooperative, a nonprofit, cooperatively-owned electric utility that has long sought to develop hydropower on the reservoirs, and that has been in negotiations with the DEP for years over the issue. A 2008 proposal by the DCEC to use water already spilling over the dams to generate up to 63 megawatts of power earned strong political support at both the local and state level, including support from Congressman Maurice Hinchey and U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.

But after a long and unsuccessful effort to convince the DEP to allow it to develop the reservoirs, the DCEC has little stomach to do further battle with the agency. In an interview with the Watershed Post yesterday, CEO Greg Starheim said that while the DCEC has not made a decision on whether to respond to the DEP's open call to developers, he doubts the cooperative would want to enter into another round of negotiations with the city.

“This has been an enormously costly and time-consuming proposition for our membership. I don't see that as a very viable and smart thing for us to do,” he said.

And though the DEP appears to be welcoming private developers with open arms, Starheim has little faith that the agency has any real interest in developing power on the reservoirs.

“The city has considered hydroelectric generation at some of the facilities in the past, going back thirty years ago. And they've always abandoned those pursuits,” he said. “We have tried extensively to negotiate with the city and have not been successful.”

For the full story click HERE.
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