MRES celebrates beginning of generation at the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project

September 2, 2020

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
September 2, 2020

Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) on Sept. 2 marked the beginning of hydropower generation at the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP) in Iowa with a video dedication ceremony.

Built on the Lake Red Rock dam near Pella, Iowa, RRHP will create a new purpose for an existing Army Corps of Engineers facility completed in 1969, MRES said. MRES, a joint action agency, broke ground on the project almost exactly six years ago.

Now Iowa’s second-largest hydropower generator, the retrofitted dam will harness the power of the Des Moines River to produce electricity for thousands of homes in MRES member communities across Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

RRHP is expected to produce more than 36 megawatts of electricity, and 55 MW during summer months when water levels are typically highest. Financing for the project was provided by MRES’s partner, Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency.

“RRHP serves as a model for public-private partnerships to retrofit some of the estimated 80,000 dams in the U.S. that do not produce power,” MRES said in a news release. The project was included in the federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard, which was designed to speed the development of critical infrastructure projects across the U.S.

“The Red Rock plant will run 24-7,” said Tom Heller, president and CEO of MRES. “It is not intermittent like wind or solar power.”

The project “will also give us another generating resource in our ongoing effort to diversify our renewable portfolio,” Heller said in the video dedication ceremony.

“What an amazing achievement to get this done,” said Joy Ditto, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association, in the video dedication ceremony. She noted that the project will provide renewable, affordable and reliable hydropower.

Ditto said that Heller was an “incredible leader to help get this done.” (Heller received the Mark Crisson Leadership and Managerial Excellence Award during APPA’s Public Power Connect: Virtual Summit & Business Meeting earlier this year).

The communities that MRES serves “were instrumental in ensuring that this project could come to fruition,” she went on to say.

“Working with their locally elected officials who manage their utilities, understanding what their community needs were going to be now and into the future, demonstrates the value of public power and the way that we can come together and ensure that our communities’ needs are being met through our electric utilities.”

The project is an example of how public power utilities listen to their communities, Ditto said.

As public power pursues innovative initiatives like electric vehicles, community solar and energy storage “we’re going to be working with our communities and our community leaders in understanding how we need to achieve those innovative activities,” she said.

Other speakers participating in the video dedication ceremony were:

  • Iowa Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg
  • U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
  • U.S. Representative David Loebsack (D-Iowa)
  • Don DeWaard, mayor of Pella, Iowa
  • R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works
  • Malcolm Woolf, president and CEO, National Hydropower Association
  • Stan Kocon, president and CEO, Voith Hydro
  • Mario Finis, executive vice president, Stantec
  • Tim Odell, executive vice president, Ames Construction
  • Tim Welch, hydropower program manager, Department of Energy Wind and Water Power Technologies Office
  • Scott Hain, president, WMMPA

To view the video dedication ceremony, click here.

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