Ute Mountain Hydro Power Plant


Hydroelectric Turbines

Micro-Hydro Power System

About the Project

Project investment: $366,000

Location: Towaoc, CO (Montezuma County)

Environmental highlights:

  • Agricultural irrigation
  • Renewable energy-producing, micro-hydro technology

Key terms:

  • Microhydropower: A type of hydroelectric power that typically produces 5 kW to 100 kW of electricity using the natural flow of water
  • Pivot (center-pivot irrigation): A method of crop irrigation where equipment rotates around a pivot, with crops watered with sprinklers

“There’s a lot involved in all of the hydroelectric generation components, and I’m very appreciative of the people that have been involved in this process. ”

– Simon Martinez, General Manager of Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm and Ranch Enterprise and Bow & Arrow Brand, LLC

The Story

The Ute Mountain Ute Farm & Ranch Enterprise is a 7,700 acre irrigated farm owned and operated by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. They’ve been operating the Bow & Arrow Brand via the farm since the early 1960s, producing alfalfa, non-GMO corn, and cattle while practicing sustainable farming and using state of the art technology to grow and mill their crops.

CCEF funded an agricultural irrigation project utilizing renewable energy-producing, micro-hydro technology that will offset a material amount of operating costs for the tribe. This community experienced heavy shortfalls in its water supply over the last 2 years, which led to a major reduction in crop production, forcing 50% of employees to be let go (half of which were tribal members).

COVID severely affected the supply chain, and the Enterprise is still dealing with that in 2022. Since receiving funding in the summer of 2022, phase one—which includes two pivots—has been completed. These pivots have been installed and are operable, and the farm has been able to get a crop in and get it watered efficiently.

“It was nice to be able to put the turbines in, which meant making modifications to the water delivery box and the construction of a power house building,” says Simon Martinez, General Manager of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm and Ranch Enterprise and Bow & Arrow Brand, LLC. “We reinstalled the hydroelectric components and were able to finish up the engineering and commissioning components on these first two pivots.”

The enhancements from this project have allowed the farm to use their water more efficiently, with cost savings in the long run. This hydropower project has also decreased their electric bill and usage in addition to what they’re saving through installed solar.

The project is in a rural area with limited access to capital. Indigenous, sovereign communities, such as the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, are often presented with challenges to traditional/commercial lending practices. For CCEF, this was a perfect opportunity to fill a pressing gap in the market.

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