Project on local irrigation canal could power 2,450 homes
By Tim Doran
A Bend company plans to build a 5-megawatt hydroelectric facility on the North Unit Irrigation District’s main canal in Jefferson County and sell the electricity it generates.
The company, EBD Hydro LLC, plans to divert water from the irrigation canal, run it through a turbine and generate enough electricity to power between 2,100 and 2,450 homes.
"We’re moving forward, and we’re excited,” said Josh Gordon, project manager with EBD Hydro. "It’s a really good green project.”
Called the 45-Mile Hydroelectric Project, the project gets its name from its location, about 45 miles north of the point in Bend where the North Unit Irrigation District diverts water from the Deschutes River into its main canal.
The pipes and turbine will be located about two miles north of Haystack Reservoir near the intersection of Southwest Bear Drive and Southwest Holly Lane, several miles east of Culver, according to an application filed Thursday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The project will not include a dam. Instead, water from the irrigation canal will be carried to a 4,500-square-foot building housing the turbine before returning to the canal.
No water will be consumed in the process, the application states, and power will only be generated when water is running in the canal. Except for stock runs, most irrigation districts shut off irrigation water in the winter months.
No fish should be harmed, either, the application states, as the water will have already passed through screens after being diverted from the river.
Gordon said the building would be designed to look like one of the farm structures found in the area.
Those living in the area or familiar with the project will know the building’s purpose, but he said others "will have no idea because the piping is underground.”
EBD expects the project to cost about $15 million, Gordon said. It received about half the amount last month. The state Department of Energy recommended approval of a $7.2 million Small Scale Energy Loan, according to Diana Enright, communications manager.
EBD also is seeking funding from the Energy Trust of Oregon, a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, investment tax credits and Business Energy Tax Credits, Gordon said.
While EBD plans to install a 5-megawatt turbine, it expects to generate about 3 to 3.5 megawatts of power, Gordon said. The electricity would be uploaded to Pacific Power’s lines and sold.
The irrigation district will be able to use the electricity to power its pumps, and it will receive a percentage of the revenue generated, Gordon said, although he could not discuss the financial arrangements.
Officials with the irrigation district could not be reached for comment, but they support the plan, according to a letter from District Manager Mike Britton that’s included in EBD’s federal application.
The application also contains letters from several federal and state agencies acknowledging the project. If it receives all the various agency approvals, EBD hopes to begin construction by late September or early October, Gordon said, and have it finished about a year later.
Along with construction jobs, the hydropower project should create four to six permanent positions for employees who will monitor and manage it.
EBD Hydro LLC was established to handle the 45-Mile project, Gordon said, but a core team of partners — consultants and engineers — has developed 14 or 15 hydropower projects over 25 years. The group also has an office in Boise, Idaho.
"You can look forward to future projects from EBD Hydro,” he said.
Tim Doran can be reached at 541-383-0360, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.