Sep 25, 2017
When you think of renewable energy, a lot of people picture windmills or solar panels, which are great. I work on projects which are more hidden, but when people hear about it, they get so excited!
The company I work for, Crestline Construction, does all kinds of work from building sidewalks to commercial buildings. One field we’re now specializing in is work with farmers and irrigation districts to take traditional, open canals of water used to feed crops and turn them into piped irrigation. The closed pipes are much more energy-efficient for our client and save them money long term. And the closed system, as opposed to open canals, don’t lose as much water from evaporation, which is critical for Oregon farmers dealing with drought conditions, which we’re seeing more of these days.
Now for maybe the coolest part! We have the water pumping through the pipes, saving energy and water along the way, and then we install hydroelectric turbines inside the pipe to create clean electricity.
At Crestline Construction, we’ve done several projects with the Farmers Irrigation District in the Columbia River Gorge and we really enjoy them. One of the first projects that I worked on was for the replacement of two, older turbines with one much better one. It’s a powerful piece of machinery. Farmers Irrigation District sells the clean, inexpensive power which helps their bottom line as an organization.
Farmers Irrigation District provides water to both residential and agricultural landowners. It is really cool what they have done to become more sustainable. Taking open canals and turning them into tighter systems that produce renewable energy and revenue to support their organization. I mean, what better source to develop both power and revenue than from water that is already flowing for irrigation? We enjoy the projects that improve the infrastructure of our neighbors.
The project that we’re looking at starting this Fall is a reservoir enhancement project. Our team has been excited and waiting for this job for a long time. It’s called The Kingsley Reservoir. The overall goal is to raise the capacity of the water and replace leaky pipes to save water for the community and build our defense against droughts. It’s a really pretty spot so our construction team is looking forward to working there.
We’d love to work on more of these projects. We have between 60-75 employees, it can fluctuate depending on work. Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects have been beneficial to us as a company by providing great work and the projects contribute to the community overall. It has really helped us and we love the work.
There are miles and miles of irrigation canals in Oregon. We'd love to work on more projects in more beautiful places. Certainly, if more money was available to clients through Clean Energy Jobs, it would help more farmers and districts with this kind of technology to save water and create clean energy. We would love to take on more renewable energy projects if we could.