TELLURIDE – With Xcel Energy conducting modifications to the Trout Lake Dam this summer, the Trout Lake Recreation Area near the summit of Lizard Head Pass will close for nearly a year beginning July 15.
The energy company, which owns the historic Ames Hydroelectric Plant below the dam and the recreation area surrounding the lake, has already started to drain Trout Lake in preparation for the work it plans to complete.
“We will be doing some modifications to the area where the water flows out of the lake,” Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz said on Monday. “Along with that outlet work, we will be realigning a portion of the penstock.”
Stutz said the work needs to be completed in order for the hydroelectric system to be in compliance with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulations.
The recreation area includes two parking areas and two roadside fishing access locations. These will close on July 15 and will stay closed for the remainder of the 2013 recreation season and are expected to reopen in the spring of 2014. Stutz said residents in the area will continue to have access to their homes during the closure.
“We understand that this can be an inconvenience this time of year,” Stutz said. “Hopefully people can get up and use the recreational opportunities around the lake before it closes on July 15.”
Trout Lake is the primary storage reservoir for the hydroelectric plant, which is a 3.75 megawatt facility originally built in 1891. It is famously known as the first site in the world to generate alternating current that was transmitted and sold for industrial purposes. L.L. Nunn and George Westinghouse applied the alternating current theories of Nikola Tesla to generate electricity at Ames, providing the power to the Gold King Mine.
The current powerhouse was built and made operational in 1906. The plant was acquired by Xcel Energy in 1992, as part of the acquisition of Colorado Ute Electric Association properties owned by Public Service Company of Colorado.