$21M hydro project will power thousands of homes

DORENA LAKE, Ore. - The Dorena Reservoir Hydroelectric Power Plant project is about 4 1/2 months away from completion.

"Dorena is a perfect example of a retrofit project on existing federal land that's able to provide additional benefits to the community as well as the energy grid," said Brent Smith from Dorena Hydro.

Although construction will only take a year total, Dorena Hydro said the project has been in the works for almost 12 years.

Dorena Hydro said environmental surveys and government licensing have been responsible for the hold up.

The hydroelectric plant essentially takes in water from the dam through a pipe which then propels the water through two turbines.

Those turbines are powered by the water and in turn create electricity.

Once the water moves through the turbines it is released back out to the rivers.

Dorena Hydro said it's a balancing act between the normal water released from the dam and the water being released from the turbines. They said a modulator is in place to restrict to much water from entering the river at one time, helping to prevent a flood.

Mowak Construction won the bid for the project a few years back. Dorena Hydro says the total cost of the project is now estimated at $21 million.

Dorena Hydro LLC said the turbines can create up to 8 mega watts of electricity; 1 mega watt is enough power to 400-600 homes.

The electrical power will travel down the bike path on Row River Rd in Cottage Grove and drop off at a power grid near the Village Green in Cottage Grove. Pacific Power will then be buying the power from Dorena Hydro.

Dorena Hydro said their licenses to produce power at the dam are good for 50 years.