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Small Hydroelectric Projects

Small hydroelectric generation is a renewable and decentralized source of electricity, which is typically employed with very minimal environmental impact. Unlike large hydroelectric projects requiring the damming of rivers, small hydro projects simply divert a portion of a river or creek’s flow or are constructed on pre-existing diversions, such as raw water distribution systems. Such systems have been in use for over a century and in many places and were the original source of electricity. In fact, the world's first commercial-grade alternating-current power plant was built in Colorado in 1891 by L.L. Nunn, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse.


Guidance on implementing small hydro projects located here:  Small Hydro Intro & Feasibility Guide


Small Hydro Streamlined Federal Permitting Project

In 35 years, only 26 federal permits have been issued for hydropower projects in Colorado. The CEO has received significant national attention for pioneering partnership efforts with the federal government to address barriers to hydropower development. Currently, hydropower is only renewable energy technology that requires a permit from the federal government to operate. CEO’s Small Hydro Permitting Process assists developers of small, low-impact hydropower projects in applying for a federal permit. This effort saves time and money for hydropower developers and lowers the risk in investing in hydropower in Colorado. Projects that qualify for assistance under this program must use existing infrastructure and have very low potential impacts on the environment.