Central Utah Water

responsibly develop, conserve, and deliver water

Olmsted Hydroelectric Power Plant Replacement Project

The Central Utah Water Conservancy District (District) and the United States Department of the Interior, Central Utah Project Completion Act Office (CUCPA Office), as Joint Lead Agencies, are proposing replacements and modifications to the Olmsted Hydroelectric Power Plant located in Orem, Utah, near the mouth of Provo Canyon.

In October 2015, the District assumed the responsibility for operation and maintenance of the Olmsted power plant as a component of the Bonneville Unit of the Central Utah Project (CUP). The Joint Lead Agencies are preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The EA will provide the necessary analysis for determining potential environmental impacts associated with the Olmsted power plant replacement project. As part of the EA process, the Joint Lead Agencies are initiating a scoping process and soliciting comments from agencies, interested groups, and the general public regarding the proposed project. The scoping process will assist in the determination of alternatives and environmental impacts to address in the NEPA process.

Project Schedule

Construction is anticipated to last approximately 20 months and is scheduled to be completed by July 2018.

Project Background

In the early 1900s, Lucien L. Nunn began construction of a new run-of-the-river hydroelectric power plant at the mouth of Provo Canyon. Water for the hydroelectric power plant was diverted from the Provo River approximately 4.5 miles up the canyon and conveyed to the plant through the Olmsted Flowline, located along the foothills of Mount Timpanogos above the Provo River. By 1912, the power plant was able to produce about 10 megawatts when operating at capacity. In 1912, Utah Power & Light (now Rocky Mountain Power, a part of PacifiCorp) purchased the Olmsted Power Plant through the acquisition of Telluride Power Company and has operated the power plant since that time.

In 1987, the Department of the Interior secured ownership of the Olmsted Flowline and the associated water rights as part of the CUP. In the associated 1990 Settlement Agreement, the Olmsted Hydroelectric Power Plant was added to the Central Utah Project to better secure and develop the water rights. The Olmsted Settlement Agreement was entered into between Reclamation, the District, and PacifiCorp, for the purpose of further payment of just compensation to PacifiCorp by providing, among other things, that the United States would hold title to and PacifiCorp would continue to operate and receive the energy produced from the Olmsted Power Plant through September 21, 2015. That Settlement Agreement expired on September 22, 2015 and power generation at the site has ceased. The continued operation of a power plant at Olmsted is essential to maintaining the Olmsted Water Rights, which are a large critical part of the M&I water supply of the Bonneville Unit. Therefore, District, DOI, and Reclamation have been coordinating with PacifiCorp for many years to ensure continued generation of power at this site for the long term.

In 2010, the District completed a comprehensive evaluation to assess the condition of the existing power plant, penstocks, pressure box, and upstream conveyance systems to the power plant, and to determine how to best ensure that the Olmsted water rights could be maintained. It was determined that the existing facilities were well past their useful life and could not be refurbished, but had to be replaced. The existing Olmsted power facilities included the historic power plant, several support buildings, three 48-inch and one 72-inch penstocks, the pressure box, a rock tunnel, and a 102-inch pipeline. The new facilities that will be constructed include relining of the 102-inch pipeline, lining of the rock tunnel with an 84-inch steel pipeline, a new cliff spillway structure, a new surge tank, a new 84-inch buried penstock, a new power house, and connection to the electrical grid. The historic Olmsted Power House, which is on the National Registry of Historic Place, and all equipment in the building will not be demolished as part of this replacement project, but will remain and eventually turned into a museum. All other property and facilities surrounding the power house are owned and maintained by PacifiCorp and will not be disturbed during construction. Construction of the new power plant is estimated to be completed by the July of 2018.

Project Updates

The Central Utah Water Conservancy District, acting on behalf of the Department of Interior, is constructing a new power plant along with new support facilities to replace the historic Olmsted Hydroelectric Power Plant and its outdated facilities, located at the mouth of Provo Canyon. The work will be concentrated in three locations-near the existing, historic power plant site, the pressure box/penstock area on the hillside north of the existing power plant, and the cliff spill structure, near the current Olmsted Flowline spillway. All work is scheduled to be completed and the power plant operational by July 2018.

About the New Construction Site

The Olmsted Hydroelectric Power Plant Replacement Project has started work and for the next 20 months construction will be occurring near the mouth of Provo Canyon at 800 North in Orem.

At recent project scoping meeting, some questions and concerns were raised:

  1. Will this project result in a new stoplight on 1560 East 800 North - UDOT is responsible for any decisions on new stoplights. This project does not involve any stop light installations.
  2. Will the construction produce dust? – The contractor has developed a dust control plan and is subject to strict requirements to frequently water or use a dust suppressant during construction.
  3. Will the new facilities disturb existing views or result in additional noise? – The new power plant will be located adjacent to the existing power plant and should not impair any existing views of the area. The new power plant should not make any more noise than the historic plant.
  4. What ground disturbance will occur? – All areas disturbed by construction will be returned to their natural state.
  5. Will the Provo Canyon Trail be closed during construction? No trail closures are planned during construction of the new facilities.

We want to be good neighbors and keep you informed and updated on an ongoing basis as construction takes place. We will be posting construction updates on Facebook as well as this website. Our Outreach Director Monica Hoyt (385-250-4780) is available to answer any questions or concerns you may have.