Arguments against the hydro dam proposal

Hydro Power Generation: A Good Idea.
But not on East Rosebud Creek
Sustainable energy will be very important to cover our future energy needs. This
however does not mean that every sustainable energy project makes sense. A
hydro power project is not meaningful just because it is hydro power. It still has to
make economic sense. And it has to make environmental sense. If the negative
impact of construction and operation of the plant is way larger than the
environmental advantage of the sustainable energy it produces it should not be
built. If in addition economic viability is all but secure it should not even been
taken into consideration. The following arguments show that hydro power
generation on East Rosebud Creek does not make economic sense. And it
shows that it does not does not make ecologic sense either.
Carbon County’s economy success depends on keeping its land and
surroundings unspoiled and free of visible industrialization. Tourists come
from all over the world to enjoy the splendor of these lands. Some just
stay for days of vacation, some buy property and become part of the
community. All together they provide for a healthy income of local
businesses and create substantial tax income. Environmental impacts will
have to be analyzed very carefully to avoid major damage to a thriving
county. Local property values have been fairly stable compared to other
areas during past years’ housing crisis. And this largely due to the fact that
unspoiled nature is a scarce commodity. If we trade this commodity in we
might have nothing left.
The proposed power plant is supposed to generate 6 MW (Megawatts) of
electricity. Our analysis suggests that only 1-2 MW might be possible.
Main reason for this is that the needed water flow of 150 cfs is only
available for 3-4 months out of a year. In addition the elevation difference
has been overstated by 20%, and finally, a small plant like this is expected
to run way below 100% efficiency.
Another way to look at it is a comparison with data from the existing West
Rosebud Dam. It produces 11.5 MW with more than twice the elevation
drop, a larger penstock, and running full year. Crunching the data results
in the same low estimate for the proposed East Rosebud project: only 1.5
MW electricity on an annual average.
Upper East Rosebud Creek (where the dam project is proposed) is eligible
for Wild and Scenic River designation and it is surrounded on 3 sides by
Designated Wilderness. This sets standards that ask for mitigation of
environmental, and other adverse effects that have not or only partially
been addressed in the current dam proposal. Full implementation would
increase cost of construction and operation of the plant significantly.
o Penstock and power line would have to be buried and dam and
power house structures would have to be hidden to comply with
Custer National Forrest Management Plan’s Visual Impact
Requirements. Only burying of penstock will allow unhindered
wildlife migration.
Appropriate fish screens and upstream fish bypass facilities would
have to be included in the dam structure.
Mitigation of impacts on endangered, threatened, and sensitive
species like Grizzly Bear, Canada Lynx, Wolverine, Bald Eagle and
Peregrine Falcon has not been addressed.
Measurements to avoid spreading of aquatic nuisance species due
to lower water flow have not been taken into account yet.
Weed management during construction and monitoring thereafter
will probably take way more effort than anticipated.
Mitigation of impacts on prehistoric artifacts has not been
Additional cost will arise from road improvements to East Rosebud
Road which will otherwise not be able to handle heavy truck traffic
during construction.
Additional 3.5 miles of power lines to connect to the grid through
private land with covenants to burry all utilities have not been taken
into account.
We are afraid of a situation where a power project that is not feasible
economically is made viable by environmental shortcuts that destroy the
natural beauty of this area forever and/or by unacceptable increases in
power costs (the example of the Highwood Power Plant shows how fast
this can happen). We are also afraid that a project might be started
without taking all cost into account which might lead to financial problems
or even bankruptcy of the project company later on without funds left to
remedy the done damage to the area.
According to the National Hydropower Association only 3% of the nation’s
80,000 dams are utilized for power generation. Future hydro power
projects should focus on these existing dams first.
There are 177,000 miles of streams in Montana. Only 0.6% (1100 miles)
of these have been found eligible for Wild and Scenic Designation. Let us
leave this small part unspoiled forever.
875 concerned residents and friends of the area have signed our petition
to stop the project and preserve East Rosebud Creek. Please join in.
For updates on this project and to assist us saving the beauty of East Rosebud
Creek please go to .