Apple taking over Jefferson County hydro project

Water diverted from canal could help power Prineville data center

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin

A Bend company that had proposed a hydroelectric project in Jefferson County has transferred its property to Apple, suggesting the computing giant may be looking to start generating power for its Prineville data center.

Chris Gaither, a spokesman for Apple, said while the company will not comment specifically on the deal with EBD Hydro, Apple has made running its facilities on renewable power a priority. The Prineville data center is run largely on wind power purchased from utilities, he said, and in the company’s 2013 Environmental Footprint Report, Apple states it plans to employ solar and micro-hydro power in the future.

The 45-Mile Hydroelectric Project, first proposed in 2010 by EBD Hydro of Bend, would be located on the North Unit Irrigation District’s main canal, 45 miles downstream from the intake and about 2 miles north of Haystack Reservoir. As originally envisioned, the project would divert water out of the canal for approximately half a mile before running it through a hydroelectric turbine and discharging it back into the canal.

In 2011, EBD Hydro estimated the project would generate 3 to 3.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 2,100 to 2,450 homes.

Filings in the Federal Register indicate EBD Hydro transferred the property related to the hydro project to Apple in November. Representatives of EBD Hydro could not be reached for comment on Friday.

In 2011, EBD Hydro received a $7.2 million federal loan guarantee for the hydro project and was anticipating construction would begin before the end of that year.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com