How the CCEC Will Work
The turbine and generator convert the force of water falling 325 feet, from the Thomas Reservoir, into electric power. The water will travel through a 42 inch penstock (pipe) which can supply the plant with a maximum from both steams together of 52 cubic feet per second, and will double as an emergency drainline for the Thomas Reservoir if the reservoir walls are breached or overtopped. The electricity produced by the CCEC will be available on the City of Aspen power grid without long-distance transmission costs or energy losses.
The majority of the infrastructure needed for the CCEC is already in place. The remaining portions of the project are a facility to house the turbine and a tailrace, which will return water from the emergency drain line/penstock to Castle Creek. See the remaining costs associated with the CCEC on the Finances page.
Emergency Drain Line
The Thomas Reservoir's emergency drainline has been designed to also serve as the CCEC's penstock (an underground pipe used for conveying water to a turbine). It is important to have an emergency drain line for the reservoir to quickly drain water should there be signs of a breach or reservoir overflow threatening property and people living and working downhill (the area surrounding the Aspen Valley Hospital).
Thomas Reservoir Drainline FAQ
In 1908, a failure of the Hunter Creek water delivery system located on Smuggler Mountain left a scar that can be seen today on the mountainside from the resulting overflow of water. Luckily, there were fewer people and structures below the dam at that time, so damages were minimal.
Even if the CCEC is not constructed, the costs associated with building the tailrace must be incurred in order to complete the emergency drain line.
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