Keith Johnson, Deseret News
A hydroelectric plant at the Jordanelle Reservoir dam near Heber City began generating power in July. It was dedicated Wednesday.

Residents of the Heber Valley have a fresh source of power in the Jordanelle Dam Hydroelectric Power plant, which was formally opened in a dedication ceremony Wednesday.

The $21.5 million facility began generating power on July 1. Construction of the project started in September 2006. The plant's two turbines are designed to supply approximately 12.91 megawatts of electricity — enough to provide energy to about 9,000 households annually, said Richard Tullis, assistant general manager of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.

The facility was built through a partnership between the district, Heber Light and Power and the U.S. Interior Department, he said. His agency has a 40-year renewable lease with the Interior Department to use the land occupied by the dam and the plant.

Tullis estimated that the project would pay for itself in about 30 years, and the agency would then use the residual revenue to help pay for future projects.

The plant was designed to be environmentally friendly and does not emit any greenhouse gases, Tullis said. The operation of the facility should have no impact on the flow of the Provo River and minimal, if any, effect on wildlife and natural areas, he added.

"Some power plants raise and lower the flow depending upon power needs," Tullis said. "This is called a run-of-the-river power plant, and whatever we're delivering to our water customers that runs through the turbines is what we generate. We do not modify the flows for power."

Reed Murray, program director for the Interior Department's Central Utah Project Completion Act office, said the plant's developers and his office went through "a process to ensure that there would be no negative environmental impacts to the area and downstream, as well."

Tullis said the dam's main purpose is to supply water, and generating electricity is secondary. His agency has contracts to obtain enough water from the reservoir to serve the supplemental needs of over a million people along the Wasatch Front.

Gene Shawcroft, the water district's assistant general manager, said the project will give the Heber Valley a reliable source of energy in its own backyard.

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