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One Drop at a Time: Hydro power in Nebraska
In December, we told you about the new regulations placed on coal-powered energy plants. Raising rates raised concerns.
The answer to the problem could lie in alternative energy and from solar to wind, there are plenty of options.
News 5's Jordan Shefte talks about the future of hydropower in Central Nebraska in our special report 'One Drop at a time.'
We aren't talking about power produced by waterfalls or large dams.
We're talking about a small-scale way to produce energy, through canals, pipes, and ditches one drop at a time.
"It definitely means higher costs and higher pressures and more pressure on rates," said Hastings Utilities Manager Marv Schultes.
New Federal Regulations are going to be forcing coal-power energy plants to install new technology which is going to come at a cost.
"That puts upward pressure on rates, and that's going on across the country, including here," said Schultes.
Not only are energy costs rising, but so is the demand.
"There are times where the local REA's don't have enough power," said Loup Basing Reclamation District General Manager Tim Knutson.
The combination is making alternative energy more and more necessary. The good news? It can be found in our own backyard.
"Eleven million acres, and thousands of canals and thousands of drop structures, there is that potential for low-head hydro to help meet the demands throughout the west.," Knutson said.
Knutson feels that his canals could be the perfect location to harness energy.
"We know that this drop structure, which is fourteen feet, and has about roughly one hundred and fifty to one hundred seventy five cfs of water going through it could potentially create a couple hundred kilowatts of power," said Knutson.
Small scale hydro-power offers a clean, low-cost energy option with the help of a generator.
The greater the height and the more water that flows over the drop, the more electricity can be created.
"There's a tremendous volume of water going through there, and the speed of that water makes a difference too, subsequently create some type of power," Knutson said.
It sounds like a good idea, but right now it's available power that's unable to be used. A big part of the reason is the cost.
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