generation is a valuable renewable resource in the Rocky Mountain region.
Hydropower is generated when water (either from a river or reservoir)
is diverted through a turbine, which then turns a generator to produce
electricity. This provides a very flexible, low cost renewable resource.
Much of the hydroelectric power in the west has been developed as part
of the federal reclamation program. At the direction of Congress, the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was charged with developing multi-purpose
projects to provide, among other things, flood control, irrigation,
recreation and water storage. Electric generation was included as a
part of these projects to make more efficient use of the water and
to help pay the costs associated with the projects. Power not only
pays for the hydropower features of the Federal projects, but also
pays most (about 90% in most cases) of the irrigation features. Included
in the law are provisions that the power from the Federal projects
will be sold to preference customers, primarily to non-profit municipal
and rural electric systems at rates sufficient to recover the costs
of operating the projects and repaying the government for the investment
in the projects.
Platte River has long-term contracts (through
2024) for the purchase of federal power from the Loveland Area Projects
(LAP) and the Salt Lake Integrated Projects (SLIP). This power is marketed
by the Western Area Power Administration. The LAP facilities are primarily
located in Colorado and Wyoming and include generation from the Colorado
Big Thompson Project (between Loveland and Estes Park, Colorado), dams
along the North Platte River in Wyoming, and the Mt. Elbert pumped
storage project (near Leadville, Colorado). The SLIP projects include
the power produced from the features of the Colorado River Storage
Project at Glen Canyon Dam (near the Utah/Arizona border), Flaming
Gorge Dam (near the Wyoming/Utah border), and Blue Mesa Dam (and associated
Crystal and Morrow Point Dams near Gunnison, Colorado). SLIP also includes
several other smaller projects in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
This renewable hydroelectric power provides about 20% of the resources
needed to serve the loads of the four municipal systems served by Platte