Building a Hydro Park
Redesigning the site of the 7-MW Badger hydro facility ofered
Kaukauna Utilities the opportunity to do something unique. Te
utility converted the site into a Hydro Park that attracts thousands of
visitors for music, yoga, bicycle rides and more.
By Michael Pedersen
What do you do with the site of an old hydroelectric powerhouse that is sitting in the middle of a small but vibrant community? If you are Kaukauna Utilities, you turn it into an exciting
new downtown park that ofers a venue for music concerts, public
meetings, recreation and much more. And to tie the park with the
history of the site, you name it the Hydro Park.
A new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission operating license for the
9.4-MW Badger-Rapid Croche project, received in June 2011, included
the provision that Kaukauna Utilities convert an old facility into a park.
Te Badger-Rapid Croche project comprises two developments at the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Kaukauna and Rapide Croche dams.
Te license authorized the city of Kaukauna to decommission the
old Badger powerhouse and construct a new one, increasing the project’s
installed capacity. Kaukauna Utilities chose this option for several reasons:
• Retiring the Badger plants would mean the need to purchase
replacement power, which likely would be from fossil fuels or
another non-renewable resource
• Replacement power diferential cost would be more than $2 million
and subject to rising fuel costs, meaning a signifcant rate increase
compared with other alternatives
• Repairing the existing Badger plants would require reconstructing
the power canal and provide only a 20-year life expectancy
• Repairing would result in 25% less hydropower generation and the
need to construct a new plant after 20 years
Kaukauna Utilities is a community owned and operated electric
and water utility serving 15,000 customers. Te company was founded
This plan for the Hydro Park (at left) shows the new Badger powerhouse and other features, including a future museum site. The photo at right
shows the completed park with the old Kaplan turbine.
ANOTHER BENEFIT OF HYDRO