Boise's Diversion Dam
by Scott Logan
BOISE -- After 22 years, the Diversion Dam Power Plant seven miles southeast of Boise on the Boise River is generating electricity again.
The plant began generating electricity in June, but final touches took until just recently. The official dedication was today.
Three brand new generators are producing 3.4 megawatts of power, more than double the old plant's 1912 capacity.
That's enough power for 2,500 homes but in the booming Treasure Valley, isn't that just a drop in the bucket?
"Of course it is," said John Keys, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. "But it takes a lot of drops to fill the bucket up. Every little bit helps when it comes to power."
From 1912 to 1982, the power plant, originally built to provide power for the construction of Arrowrock Dam, generated electricity.
But it became too expensive to operate and was basically turned off.
In the early 1990s, the Bonneville Power Administration and the Bureau of Reclamation wanted to refurbish the power plant, but it still wasn't cost effective. All that changed with the shocking developments in the energy market, especially the rise in oil prices.
"Oil tends to drive related fuels like natural gas and coal," said Steve Hickok, deputy administrator with the Bonneville Power Association. "So hydroelectricity looks good compared to all other sources of electricity because the fuel's free."
Starting in June 2001, work crews began replacing the aging turbines with state of art the equipment. During the three-year, $5.5 million project, efforts were taken to preserve the historic integrity of the old power house, which is on the National Historic Register.
The end result is one nifty addition to the Idaho power grid that is expected to keep going and going for another 100 years.
(For security reasons, Diversion Dam Power Plant will no longer be open for public tours. An exhibit is planned for the Idaho Historical Museum.)
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