The county Board of Supervisors has approved plans to build a small hydroelectric energy plant at the San Gabriel Dam north of Azusa, the first of its kind in the county.
The plant, which could produce more than 15 million kilowatt hours of energy a year and supply enough electricity to light up a small town, is expected to net the county more than $18 million over the next 30 years, county officials said.
The plant, which is scheduled for completion in 1987, would produce energy by harnessing the water that flows through the dam's valves almost year-round.
County officials said it is the only feasible location in the county for the project because San Gabriel Dam is the only one with sufficient water behind it to provide a steady flow.
Roslyn Robson, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Public Works, which will oversee the project, said a private partnership made up of four energy development firms will design, finance, construct and run the plant.
Under the agreement, the partnership will pay the county an initial fee of $50,000 to use the county-owned dam, Robson said.
Robson said the partnership has already arranged financing for the project.
"This is a great example of a joint private and public project where the county is making money and improving services at the same time by bolstering energy availability," Robson said.
County officials said the energy plant will include a generator, turbine and other equipment. Electricity produced at the plant will be sent to Southern California Edison Co. via nearby lines.
The county has entered into a 30-year agreement with the San Gabriel Hydroelectric Partnership, which will lease the site and pay royalties to the county from its sale of energy.
In addition to royalties, county officials said, the county will be paid 50% of the income from the plant if the annual production of power exceeds 15 million kilowatt hours.
After 20 years, the county Flood Control District will have an option to purchase the plant from the partnership, county officials said.
The county is working on several hydroelectric energy projects that, like the proposed plant, are small in scope but are expected to make money, Robson said.
One, in El Segundo, involves producing energy from the pressure that builds up in an underground water formation, she said.
According to Robson, the private sector "is extremely interested" in developing small energy projects partly because of favorable tax breaks that go along with such developments.