For several years, GCEA has been investigating the potential for developing a hydropower project at the existing Taylor Reservoir Dam. In 2009, GCEA partnered with the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD) and the Uncompaghre Valley Water Users Association (UVWUA) to apply for a grant from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. The partners provided $15,000 matching funds and hired URS to conduct a preliminary general feasibility study.
While this "reconnaissance-level investigation" indicated that adding hydropower at the existing dam would be feasible from a technical and economic perspective, it recommended a more comprehensive feasibility investigation to refine the analysis.
In 2011, GCEA received a technical assistance grant from the Governor's Energy Office. This study provided additional analysis and led to the GCEA Board of Directors decision to move forward with further investigation into the feasibility of the project.
In 2013-2014, GCEA applied for and received a renewable system feasibility study through the USDA. GCEA partnered with the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association (UVWUA) on the project and they also contributed towards the feasibility study. GCEA hired NEI Electric Power Engineering, Inc. to conduct an Electrical Interconnection and System Impact study.
This more comprehensive technical study indicated that a hydroelectric generating station at the existing dam would still be electrically feasible. However, it also showed that the generator would have to be significantly smaller than originally hoped, unless major improvements are done on GCEA's electric distribution system. This could subsequently impact the financial feasibility of the project, so further investigation is needed in this area.
Additional investigation will also be needed into civil/structural engineering and construction costs, project permitting and meetings will need to be held if the project still appears to be feasible in all areas.