Hydro Power Plant at Ouray, Colorado

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After visiting the hydro plant at Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride, and a quick little jaunt over Imogene Pass to Ouray, we dropped in at Ouray Hydro for a visit. The main system there is comprised of a Pelton water wheel as seen above and here in its containment Wheel Cabinet. The Control Valves are between the penstock and the main wheel. The Pelton wheel's shaft drives the AC Alternator shown here with its companion Alt - Exciter.

Here's a look at the main plant Control Panel and the Switch Yard where the master penstock shut-off valve can be seen in front of my Jeep.

While we were there this time, we had the good fortune of seeing the Pelton Wheel opened up for repairs. (Not so good fortune for the plant because no electricity is being made.) The older models were of cast iron, but the new ones are of bronze or nickel alloys. Each one weighs about 100 pounds, so it's no picnic to swap them out. Here is a look at the type of water Nozzles that drive the wheel with about 700 PSI of penstock pressure. An over speed device is provided in order to block the flow in the event that the alternator output circuit should trip off. The town historian has a photo of cups embedded into the ceiling after an overspeed runaway

Here's a close look at the DC Exciter that provides energy to the rotating field coils in the alternator. This DC current goes into the alternator's rotor on slip rings and the main AC power comes out on cables from the fixed position stator. Kind of in reverse to small motors except that at this voltage and current, it's best not to deal with brushes and slip rings or the horrors of a commutator.

Dick Fowler was our tour guide today and he stands here in front of a smaller Pelton wheel and system that he built, using the hoist motor from the old Sunnyside Mine in Silverton. Motors and Generators have a lot in common and can be made to serve as either. CLICK HERE for another view at a different angle. A smaller HYDRO WATT system can be seen in the background.

Here's a view of the Hydro Plant building and a view of Ouray Town from the US Highway 550 overlook at the south end of town.

Area History:
Lore, Legend and Fact

Jeep Trips:
Black Bear Road Ophir Pass Cinnamon Pass Engineer Pass Imogene Pass

Look for our other power house photos of Telluride and Delta and Ames.

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Harry Matthews
P.O. Box 5612
Sarasota, FL 34277