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Energy Stream

BY LINDA BAKER

Oregon already ranks as the nation’s second largest generator of hydroelectric power. (Washington is No. 1). Now an elegant new installation in Portland is putting an unconventional, sharing economy twist on this age-old water-energy pairing. The new system, launched this winter, uses the flow of water inside city water pipes to spin four turbines that produce electricity for Portland General Electric customers. 

BY LINDA BAKER

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Oregon already ranks as the nation’s second largest generator of hydroelectric power. (Washington is No. 1). Now an elegant new installation in Portland is putting an unconventional, sharing economy twist on this age-old water-energy pairing. The new system, launched this winter, uses the flow of water inside city water pipes to spin four turbines that produce electricity for Portland General Electric customers. 

A partnership between clean tech startup Lucid Energy and the Portland Water Bureau, the project will generate an average of 1,100 megawatt hours of energy per year, enough to power more than 150 homes. It should also generate $2 million worth of renewable energy sales under a 20-year power purchase agreement between Lucid Energy and PGE. The system was financed by Harbourton Alternative Energy and represents the first power sharing agreement in the U.S. for in-pipe hydropower in a municipal water pipeline.

Lucid Energy president Gregg Semler hopes it won’t be the last. “The Portland Water Bureau has been able to monetize their biggest asset — water pipelines — to bring new revenue to the city,” he says. ”This approach can reduce the rising costs of water, bring new revenue to cities and improve management of water infrastructure, making water more sustainable.”

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