The Gibson Hydro Project will generate Montana-made electricity that will power American energy independence, diversify the energy supply, boost rural vitality, create job opportunities and establish a long term source of public income for local farming and ranching communities. America needs new sources of electricity. Congress has recently passed bi-partisan legislation to promote and facilitate the development of hydropower on existing non-powered federal dams. A recent federal inventory of these non-powered dams named the Gibson Dam as a priority.
Greenfields Irrigation District of Fairfield, Montana, and Tollhouse Energy of Bellingham, Washington, have partnered to form the Gibson Dam Hydroelectric Company, “Gibson Hydro.” The 550 member-farmers of Greenfields manage water released through the Gibson Dam into the Sun River Project canal system to irrigate 83,000 acres of land in west-central Montana. Tollhouse Energy is a hydroelectric development firm with nearly three decades of experience in engineering, construction, electrical transmission and power generation.
Gibson Hydro has earned State of Montana water use and water quality certifications, federal and local permits, and an original Federal Energy Regulatory Agency license issued in 2012. In their final analysis, the federal government stated that when constructed, the Gibson Hydro Project “will protect and enhance fish and wildlife resources, water quality, recreational and aesthetic resources, and historic properties” (FERC 2012, 23). The project does not contribute to atmospheric pollution and will provide a beneficial source of electrical energy for generations. Importantly, the project will only use existing flows released from the dam into the Sun River.
Gibson Hydro is a truly innovative partnership between a non-profit farming organization and a hydropower developer who seek to generate a new source of clean energy on an existing federal irrigation dam.