Building sweat equity at Burton Creek Hydro

Burton Creek Hydro is owned and operated by Sollos Energy LLC. While Burton Creek has been producing about 200 Average kWh and about 500 Peak kWh for the past few decades, in 2011 the FERC license required some new upgrades to the facility and Sollos Energy purchased the FERC license and commenced working to bring the plant back to life. That work caught the eye of the Wall Street Journal due to an emergence of new micro-turbines across the country – folks revitalizing old hydro facilities to create renewable energy. Think wildcatter with water instead of oil. The project’s 200 Average kWh is about enough to supply the energy to about 125 homes.

Burton Creek started producing energy in October of 2013 after signing a 5-year purchase power agreement with the District to purchase the output of the plant.

In 2006, though, the Department of Energy released a paper that took a second look at the potential for hydro power in the United States. It paid serious attention to places where you could make electricity without building a dam.

These sites identified by the DOE would all have capacities of less than 30 megawatts, with some less than 1 megawatt, like Burton Creek –in contrast to large hydroelectric dams, which usually have capacities of hundreds and thousands of megawatts. What these new sites lack in size, however, they make up for in sheer numbers. The study found 5,400 sites in forty-nine states where dam-less hydroelectric power could be developed in a practical way. Taken together, the sites represent as much as 18,000 additional megawatts of electric capacity we could be using but currently are not. It’s enough to increase the total U.S. hydroelectric capacity by 50 percent.

Burton Creek Hydro Intake