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The Importance of the Manitou Hydro-plant to Colorado Springs

Authors: Hannah Daugherty*, , Prudence Crawmer*,
Topics: Historical Geography, Energy, Regional Geography
Keywords: hydro-power, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, energy, net zero, water
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The most used form of renewable energy is hydro-power, a unique production that converts kinetic energy of falling water into mechanical energy. The benefits of using hydro-power include a net zero carbon footprint, no waste in production, longevity, and providing domestic sources of energy. Hydro-power is a key technology as it can readily go from zero power to maximum output powering the grid immediately from the plant, aiding in emergency electricity outages. Observing the Manitou Hydro-plant in Manitou Springs, CO, that has been operating for over 100 years, our project aims to show the importance of the plant to the city of Colorado Springs, CO and emphasize the history of expansion in the west.
The Manitou Hydro-plant was built in 1905 by George A. Taft and William A. Otis, mobilizing the water flow coming off of Pikes Peak, making it one of the highest plants in the world. After operating for 22 years the original turbine was replaced, in 1939 the remaining two units were replaced with Pelton turbines and Westinghouse generators that produce 900 rpms. In 2017, the Manitou Hydro-plant was drafted into the Hydro Hall of Fame due to its affluent history in Colorado and contributing clean electric power to Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) customers. Round the clock operation was in place until 1994 when automation took over by the Birdsall Power Plant. Due to locale the plant operates on water demand, not power demand, meaning that during summer months the plant generates more power than winter months.

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