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Hydroelectric Power Plant Decommissioned

Timpanogos Cave National Monument

National Park News

After nearly a century of power generation, a small hydroelectric plant in American Fork Canyon, Utah, including part of a 12,000-foot long steel flow-line through Timpanogos Cave National Monument, has been successfully decommissioned. 

On November 16, 2007, the final steps of the decommissioning project took place at a ceremony in which PacifiCorp transferred the in-stream water rights to the state of Utah, as well as the deed to the powerhouse itself, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, to the Forest Service. 
After years of cooperative study and participation between federal regulators, state agencies, stakeholders, the Forest Service, the National Park Service, and Rocky Mountain Power (PacificCorp), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decided to decommission the 1,050-kilowatt plant in 2004 recognizing that maintenance and repair costs made the plant’s continued operation uneconomical.

“It has been a project of true partnership and collaboration between all involved,” said superintendent Denis Davis. “We are pleased with the final outcome, as visitors on the cave trail will better enjoy the view across the canyon now that the flow line is gone.  Rock fall occasionally broke the flow line releasing water that eroded and damaged resources in the monument, and that potential has been eliminated.”

The demolition work, estimated to cost $3.5 million, was conducted by J R Merit Inc. of Vancouver, Washington and included removal of a concrete dam, the plant’s hydro turbine and generator and the former home and garage that housed plant operators - and, until recently, the park’s administrative offices after a fire destroyed the visitor center and administrative offices in 1991. The 12,000-foot long, 26-inch diameter steel flow line, that carried water from the diversion structures, ran along the north slope of the canyon, through the monument, and into the plant to generate electricity.  It was cut and removed in sections by helicopter. 

The decommissioning ceremony was attended by stakeholders, community leaders, the media and the general public. Final touches to the project were completed in late December.


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