The City holds a hydropower license for the Idylwilde Hydroelectric Project [FERC Project No. P-2829], which is located in Larimer County, Colorado on the Big Thompson River along U.S. Hwy. 34 approximately fourteen miles west of the City of Loveland, Colorado and fourteen miles east of the Town of Estes Park, Colorado. The Idylwilde Hydroelectric Project components include a dam and reservoir, a 9,500-foot long pipeline delivering water from the dam to a downstream power plant in the Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park, a tailrace to return flows to the Big Thompson River, and electrical transmission line connecting the power plant to a local grid.
The Idylwilde Hydroplant (Idylwilde) is municipally owned. However, the project is situated on City, private, and United States Forest Service (USFS) property. The City had been granted an easement by the USFS for use of USFS land during the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) licensing process. Idylwilde had a rated generating capacity of 900 kilowatts (kW) and was completed in 1925. It served the City of Loveland until the dam, turbine house, and much of the pipeline along the river were completely destroyed during the Big Thompson Flood of 1976. It took until 1981 before those structures were all replaced and the plant was able to fully function. Then again in 2013, another flood in the Big Thompson Canyon wiped out the turbine house and put massive cracks in the dam all the down to bedrock. It was at this time that the City decided that rebuilding was not a viable option and City embarked on the license surrender process. The Project’s license and Forest Service easement expired March 8, 2016.
From License Renewal to License Surrender
Knowing that the license was set to expire in 2016, the City initiated a FERC license renewal process in 2010, and was still in process when the 2013 Flood occurred. Due to the massive damage incurred during both floods, the City made the decision not to renew, but instead to begin the license surrender process with FERC.
Phase 1: The turbine house was cleared a little over two years after the flood in 2016.
Phase 2: Removal of visible overland pipeline, trestles, and other appurtenances running from the dam down to the turbine house has been completed as of late 2019. Over the course of the next few years, the City will revegetate and monitor the land that crosses over both City and Forest Service property.
Phase 3: Restoration of parking lot at dam site and river curve above the old dam is still being designed. It is expected that construction on this portion will begin in 2020.
Phase 4: Remediation of remaining pipeline under private property on Idlywilde Lane will also begin and be completed in early- to mid-2020.
For questions regarding the Idylwilde Hydro Facility Relicensing, please contact Christine Schraeder, Electrical Engineer, at Christine.Schraeder@cityofloveland.org or 970-962-3557.
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Loveland Water and Power