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Centennial 8th Graders Get Crash Course in Hydropower

Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) welcomed 200 eighth grade students from Centennial Middle School to the South Canal hydroelectric power plant on October 15, 2015. The field trip capped off a lesson in hydroelectric generation, bringing the textbook to life.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Photo by Phil Sanchez

“The field trip provided the opportunity for our students to experience, in real life, what they were practicing in the classroom. We asked our students to select the best place for a hydroelectric dam by comparing the economic, social, and environmental impacts of three locations. They were also required to understand the various energy conversions that go into electricity production. The tour brought those questions and the solutions to life,” said Meghan Waschbusch, 8th-grade science teacher.

Students toured four main features of the hydro plant: the intake, the battery house, the powerhouse, and the switchyard. DMEA staff members guided students through the tour, explaining the purpose of each station and the role it plays in generating electricity.

“DMEA was exited to provide the students with the opportunity to learn about hydroelectric generation in the local community. Programs like this help spark an early interest in science and renewable energy production,” said Jim Heneghan, DMEA Renewable Engineer.

The South Canal Hydroelectric project is comprised of two small hydro turbines, totaling 7.5 megawatts. DMEA developed the project in partnership with the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association in 2012. Annually it produces approximately 27,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity – roughly enough energy to power 3,000 average homes in DMEA’s service territory. 

For more information about scheduling a tour of DMEA’s South Canal hydroelectric project, contact DMEA at 1-877-687-3632. Learn more about the project at​


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