Hydro Technology Aims to Improve Fish Survival

New hydropower turbine technology designed to increase the survival rate of migrating juvenile salmon will be installed at a hydropower project on the Columbia River in Washington state. The turbine technology was designed through a multi-year research and development program funded by the hydropower industry and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Washington, D.C. – July 27, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) will install one turbine later this year at Wanapum Dam, one of two hydroelectric facilities in their Priest Rapids Project. Field tests are scheduled to begin early in 2005. According to the National Hydropower Association (NHA), successful testing will result in replacing the other nine turbines at Wanapum Dam with the advanced turbine design. In addition to improving fish passage, the new turbines will increase the project’s efficiency and increase its power output by some 15 percent, from 900 megawatts (MW) to 1,038 MW. The installation, operation and testing process will be completed over an eight-year period. “Grant County PUD’s decision to install advanced hydropower turbine technology illustrates the hydropower industry’s interest in harmonizing its projects as best it can with the environment in which it operates,” said Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association (NHA). “This is an industry committed to stewardship and reducing its environmental footprint while continuing to provide millions of America’s energy consumers with clean, renewable and reliable energy.” Grant County requested the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to replace 10 existing turbines, which were nearing the end of their useful life, with the advanced turbine units. FERC approved on August 23 the project upgrade for the PUD. The installation and operation of the turbines represents the first commercial application of the hydropower technology developed through the industry/DOE program, which was initiated by the industry nearly a decade ago. Pat Wood, III, Chairman of FERC, said in a press release announcing his agency’s approval, “I am pleased that PUD No. 2 of Grant County was able to use new technology to both increase capacity and protect the fish. We need more clean power in the country, while we conserve our valuable natural resources. This is a win-win for everyone.” Hydropower presently provides approximately seven percent of the nation’s electricity, but it could provide more. According to DOE, approximately 21,000 MW of new hydropower capacity could be developed without building new dams or impoundments. This is enough power for eight cities the size of Seattle. It is enough yearly power for 6.9 million homes and would significantly enhance hydropower’s valuable role in fighting air pollution and global warming.
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