- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

JEROME, Idaho (AP) - When officials at North Side Canal Co. realized that they needed to replace an aging concrete gate, they chose an option that would pay for itself.

The new diversion gate on the Main Canal north of the Jerome Butted doubles as a hydroelectric power plant and is expected to generate $8 million worth of electricity over the next 28 years, reports the Twin Falls Times-News (http://bit.ly/1FpAHJ3 ).

That’s enough to cover the entire cost of the project.

It’s the perfect place to generate electricity, said North Side Canal manager Alan Hansten, because the stream flow is strong and there is a 20-foot drop-off.

The company will sell the electricity to Idaho Power Co.

Four larger hydroelectric power plants are already part of the North Side canal system, and two other canal systems in the Magic Valley have power plants.

But this one is unique because it uses an enclosed system, a method Hansten said made the project less expensive to construct than similar canal plants.

The plant will only work six months out of the year, when water is running through the canal.

The new plant is one of five dozen small hydro projects contracted with Idaho Power.

Although the North Side plant only generates 1.28 megawatts of power, Idaho Power spokesman Brad Bowlin said all the small generators combine to produce more than 140 megawatts.

Hansten said the plant is surpassing expectations so far.

“It produces 6 percent more energy than what we originally planned,” he said.

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Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com

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