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Colorado Small Hydropower Guidebook

On behalf of the Colorado Energy Office, Applegate Group and Telluride Energy partnered in a collaborative effort to write the Colorado Small Hydropower Guidebook.

Hydropower is the nation’s most used renewable energy source.  Separated into two types, large and small, hydropower currently accounts for over two-thirds of all renewable energy generation in the U.S.  Large hydropower is most commonly utilized from large reservoirs of water like the Hoover Dam.  Small hydropower can be drawn from smaller sources of water like rivers, streams, irrigation canals and pipelines.  Small hydropower works typically by diverting a small portion of a pre-existing water source into a turbine causing it to spin. The spinning turbine is connected to an electrical generator, converting the spinning motion into electricity. Colorado’s estimated untapped small hydropower energy potential is over 737,975 MWh/year.  If Colorado were to utilize this full potential, it could power over 65,000 homes a year utilizing new hydropower. 

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO), created the Colorado Small Hydropower Guidebook to address this untapped potential, providing a step-by-step outline for small hydropower developers. The guidebook walks developers through each step beginning with site assessment, to financing and permitting, through the final construction phase. 


Small hydropower is an ideal technology for rural farmers, ranchers or landowners who have high energy operating costs and own or have rights to a consistent moving water source. The concept of taking a pre-existing body of moving water and converting it into energy, thereby helping reduce electricity costs was a no-brainier for Colorado rancher George Wenschhof.  You can learn how he utilized small hydropower to reduce his operating costs HERE


The Colorado Small Hydropower Guidebook is now available for download HERE