In the Heart of Hydro Country

The Waterpower XVI Conference and Exhibition, July 27-30 in Spokane, Wash., brings together hydro professionals to explore new opportunities for hydropower fostered by changing economic, political, and environmental concerns.

By John Braden

Hydropower professionals, eager to seize new business opportunities and learn new techniques to improve their operations, convene the week of July 27 for Waterpower XVI, the year’s most significant gathering of the hydroelectric and water resources industries.

Click here to enlarge image

The Spokane Convention Center and the Doubletree Spokane City Center in Spokane, Wash., provide the venue to explore and share new ideas, technology, and approaches to grow hydropower. The event is at the heart of hydropower, just minutes from host Avista Corp.’s downtown generating stations in the hydro-rich Pacific Northwest.

Setting the tone for the conference is an opening plenary session Tuesday, July 28. Two academics and an energy journalist are featured in a panel discussion on “The Global Energy Future.” Participating are: Thomas W. O’Donnell, Ph.D. and visiting fellow at the Department of Graduate Economics of the New School for Social Research in New York City; Michael Toman, adjunct faculty member of the Nitze School of International Studies at Johns Hopkins University; and Peter Kemp, editorial director in London for New York-based energy publisher Energy Intelligence.

The Waterpower conference series is regarded as the industry’s premier technical forum. This year’s program features innovative approaches to project rehabilitation, new development, knowledge transfer, digital technology, security, fish protection, and many other specialties. The accompanying exhibition focuses on practical and easy access to leading product and service providers.

The conference and exhibition continues through Thursday, July 30. It includes technical paper presentations, the traditional backbone of the conference, plus a variety of briefings sessions, roundtables, and symposia on technical and policy issues. Papers from technical papers and briefings sessions are published in a CD-Rom presented to each conference delegate.

Waterpower once again offers its Hydro Training Institute, teaching a course in “Hydro Basics,” an innovative curriculum to provide employees who are new to hydro an overview of hydropower, hydraulic structures, the turbine floor, the power system, regulation, and environmental stewardship. A host of ancillary workshops, technical tours, and professional meetings also are organized to help event participants maximize their Waterpower experience.

The exhibition opens with a Tuesday evening reception. More than 275 companies and organizations are on hand to share their technologies and services for solving regulatory and technical challenges.

Delegates who participate in the full Waterpower XVI conference will have the opportunity to earn professional development hours or continuing education units. A certificate of completion will be forwarded after the event.

The hydro giant of the Pacific Northwest, 6,809-MW Grand Coulee Dam, is the star of a July 27 pre-conference technical tour. Grand Coulee is the largest hydroelectric project in North America, featuring three powerhouses. Click here to enlarge image

The conference’s closing plenary session features author Trevor Turpin discussing dams as the “battleground” of sustainable development. Turpin, a director of environmental consultancy Nicolas Pearson Associates, is author of Dam. This book was published in 2008 to raise the profile of dams in the public arena while providing a historical perspective of dams and the ingenuity of engineers who build them.

Vast hydro resources of Northwest highlight technical tours

The vast hydropower resources of the Pacific Northwest are practically at the doorstep of Waterpower XVI.

A July 28 pre-conference technical tour of the 71-MW Long Lake hydroelectric development is offered under the hospitality of owner-operator Avista Corp.

Ten stockholders founded Washington Water Power Co. in 1889 to serve the city of Spokane Falls, Wash. The company that became Avista thus began 120 years of homegrown service, based on the benefits of hydroelectric power. It completed construction of the Monroe Street hydro project in 1890.

Long Lake is part of the 137.65-MW Spokane River project operating in Washington since 1915. Billed as the world’s highest spillway dam when it was built, Long Lake is on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its landmark architecture and engineering. Delegates on this tour will return to the Spokane Convention Center for lunch and a presentation on the history of Spokane-based Avista.

On Aug. 1, two more Avista hydro plants in the Spokane River project are featured in a post-conference walking tour in downtown Spokane. The 10-MW Upper Falls plant, in the heart of Spokane’s Riverfront Park and just minutes from the Spokane Convention Center, began operation in 1922. The 14.8-MW Monroe Street plant, Avista’s first hydroelectric development, began producing power in 1890.

One Waterpower tour takes delegates to the 1,050-MW Boundary hydro project on Washington’s Pend Oreille River. Project owner Seattle City Light spent nearly $90 million on rehabilitation between 1997 and 2006. Click here to enlarge image

The hydro giant of the Pacific Northwest, 6,809-MW Grand Coulee Dam, is the star of a July 27 pre-conference technical tour. Operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation on the Columbia River, Grand Coulee is the largest hydroelectric project in North America, featuring three powerhouses.

Conference attendees will benefit from insight into Reclamation’s plans to overhaul six turbines in Grand Coulee’s Third power plant, which have been in service since the mid-1970s. The overhaul will involve work on the generators, turbines, shafts, and auxiliary equipment.

Touring delegates will visit the 1,050-MW Boundary hydroelectric project on Washington’s beautiful Pend Oreille River on July 31. Project owner Seattle City Light spent nearly $90 million on rehabilitation between 1997 and 2006. Boundary currently is undergoing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hydropower relicensing.

The other stop on the July 31 portion of the technical tour is the 72-MW Box Canyon hydro project on the Pend Oreille River. Owner Pend Oreille Public Utility District is conducting an extensive overhaul and upgrade that involves replacing the original turbine runners with “fish friendly” models, rewinding generators, replacing governors, upgrading excitation equipment, and adding turbine and equipment automation capabilities.

John Braden is a senior associate editor for PennWell Corporation’s Hydro Group.

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