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Power in the Pipe: Inside a British Columbia Run-of-River Hydro Plant

Side view of the tailrace, which channels water from the turbines back to the river. The vertical drop prevents fish from entering the tailrace area.
Side view of the tailrace, which channels water from the turbines back to the river. The vertical drop prevents fish from entering the tailrace area.
  • Side view of the tailrace, which channels water from the turbines back to the river. The vertical drop prevents fish from entering the tailrace area.
  • The small on-site substation where Ashlu Creek electrons head to the grid. The actual grid intertie is located 3.5 km further down the valley.
  • The Ashlu Creek Powerhouse where the turbines are housed.
  • The provincial utility retains the right to remotely disconnect the plant from the grid at any time. If and when that occurs, this Energy Dissipation System instantly kicks in to divert water away from the turbines, which must be spun down.
  • Detail of one of the plant's control panels. The operation is almost entirely automated.
  • Overhead view of the three Andritz turbines in the Ashlu Creek powerhouse.
  • Water exits the turbines and returns to the river via the tailrace. A roughly six-foot vertical drop prevents fish from entering the powerhouse.
  • Matt Kennedy, Innergex vice-president of environment for the company's western region explains plant operations above the intake tunnel upstream at the headpond.
  • A spare Energy Dissipation System valve. Six of these valves stand ready to accept water and direct it back into the river should the provincial utility abruptly need to stop accepting power.
  • Matt Kennedy points to a map showing the 58,582 square meters of fish spawning channels (in blue) that the company created downstream of the power house. Each fall, thousands of pink and coho salmon spawn in the channels, as do steelhead trout.
  • Matt Kennedy, Innergex vice-president of environment for the company's western region, and a registered professional biologist.
  • This Obermeyer weir holds back enough river water to create the head pond. A separate valve ensures a constant minimum flow to the river.
  • River water flows into the penstock just below the waterline on the left-hand side of this image. The head pond lies beyond.

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