Small Scale Hydro-electric Power

2007 Annual Report for FNC07-647

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2007: $6,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:

Small Scale Hydro-electric Power


Project Description
The first step to generate hydro-electric power is to make a water supply pond and bury the pipe to deliver the water to the generator.

Andy Bohnenkamp from the Natural Resource Conservation Service did a stream flow test and determined the stream flow as about 500 gallons per minute. Andy surveyed the area and concluded I could have 20 to 26 feet of fall.

I purchased pipe from Ernie Glup. The generator mount and drain pipe was 20 feet of 24 inch road culvert. The 235 feet of 8 inch 80# pvc pipe supplies the water from the pond to the generator. Gatzemeyer Welding constructed a mount for the generator on the 24 inch tube and welded an end on the buried portion of the drain tube. Gatzemeyer manufactured a manifold of metal with three 20inch outlets and clamped it to the pvc inlet pipe.

Harold Hayes Jr, a local contractor with a backhoe, buried the drain pipe as low as possible without possibility of water backing into it. A pit was constructed of well-pit casing circular cement blocks. The pit that houses the generator and the inlet pipe are all buried six feet below the surface to provide year round frost free service. The outlet was completed first to enable construction on dry ground.

Sharp’s Welding was the contractor that welded a six foot extension on the overflow tube. The tube would raise the water table of the pond to enable the water to run through the pipe to the generator. The six foot of six foot diameter recycled tube was purchased from the Cuming County Road Department.

Hayes Construction finally landscaped the pond to the proper height and with the proper drainage. An emergency spill way was constructed that is safely away from the road and the pipes. I have all of the pipe buried and the landscape dirt work done. I have an attractive natural looking pond and everything else is buried out of sight.

I learned water has great force. Our temporary dam that shut off the water while we worked on the tube was taken out twice. Because of this experience, I added a pipe and valve to drain the pond if necessary.

I also learned where to look for expert advice. Construction workers that build dams and terraces are experienced in working with water and drain pipes. Irrigation sales and service personal are experienced in pipes under pressure, coupling pipes together, and using large valves.

Used pipe is cheap to buy but expensive to use because of the added labor connecting pipes that are not round.

2009 Work Plan
Nebraska Loess Hills Resource Conservation & Development has adopted our project. Deb Ward, their representative, will assist me in negotiating a contract with Burt County Public Power District. I want to hook my generator to the grid so I do not need to maintain a battery pack.

Jon Dixon from Dixon Power Systems will mount the generator in the pit on the prepared tube. He will hang wire on the three power poles to the meter pole, the power line will be hooked to the grid, and the existing wires connected to the house. Then we will turn the water valve on from the prepared water source and the hydro-electric unit is complete.

Information shared this year was basically by personal contact. Neighbors, hunters, and tourists stop and ask about the project. Everyone contacted to help with the project is interested in coming back to observe the completed project; some examples are construction workers, county supervisor, pipe salesmen, and wind energy promoters. I estimate 50 people have viewed the progress thus far.

Deb Ward from the Nebraska Loess Hills Resource Conservation & Development will help promote the project with a workshop. She determined that dirt work with a back hoe would not be that interested for spectators. I have the dirt work completed. I am now trying to coordinate a time when Jon Dixon can install the generator and Deb Ward can supervise a “workshop”. She will advertise in newsletters, newspapers, and the radio. This should be interesting for spectators and very educational on small scale hydro-electric power. In addition, the local newspaper plans to do a feature story on this project.