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Location: Near historic Ophir, Colo., in the Illium Valley.
Plant Description: Ames is a hydroelectric generating station.
Power Production Capabilities: The plant has one unit capable of producing 3.75 MW.
Fuel Source: Water from the Trout Fork drainage of the San Miguel River is stored in Trout Lake and additional storage in a high altitude reservoir, Lake Hope. A second diversion provides water from the Howard's Fork of the San Miguel River.
The original project was constructed in 1891. The current powerhouse was built and operational in 1906. The plant was part of the acquisition of Colorado Ute properties by Public Service Company of Colorado, a predecessor to Xcel Energy, in 1992.
Ames Hydro played an important role in the history of electricity. It was the site of the first use of alternating current, (or AC power), generated, transmitted and sold for industrial purposes in the world. L.L. Nunn and George Westinghouse applied the alternating current theories of Nikola Tesla to generate electricity at Ames Hydro and provide power to the Gold King Mine. At the time, the plant was owned by the first electric utility in the country. The project spurred the creation of the first Engineering School dealing with alternating current in Telluride, Colo., and led to many innovations in electrical generation and lightning protection.
The success of the Ames Hydro project made alternating current electricity the type used in our homes and businesses to this day. Two turbines power the generator; each supplied from separate diversions of the San Miguel River.
With water as its only fuel, Ames Hydro has no air, land or water emissions.
Each year Ames Hydro provides tours to area colleges and local schools. It is a popular destination for historians and historical groups.
Our products and services differ based on state. Please select your state (or the state you're interested in) from the list to the left.
Why do our products and services differ based on state? Because our business is regulated by state. We have regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. The different regulatory body for each state we serve determines what products and services we deliver in that state.