Industry News

Upgrade of Blenheim-Gilboa project completed

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) marked the completion of a nearly four-year overhaul of its Blenheim-Gilboa pumped-storage hydro project in New York at an event where NYPA President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel was joined by state and local officials in highlighting the milestone.

NYPA said the Life Extension and Modernization effort will improve the reliability of critical electricity infrastructure and increase the NYPA’s ability to help meet the long-term energy needs of the state.

“The on-time and on-budget completion of the Life Extension and Modernization Program at Blenheim-Gilboa is a hallmark of achievement for all of those who’ve been involved with the nearly four-year initiative, which secures the future of this special hydroelectric facility for decades to come,” Kessel said. “B-G’s value to New York State is especially apparent during the air-conditioning season when the margins between available electricity supplies and power consumption narrow the most, and market electricity costs tend to rise.”

In May, NYPA returned to service the last of Blenheim-Gilboa’s four pump-turbine generating units to undergo replacement as part of the more than $135 million upgrade of the 37-year-old facility, which recycles water between lower and upper reservoirs to generate power when it is most needed. The more efficient, modern units allow the pumped-storage project to produce additional power from the falling water from the upper reservoir on Brown Mountain, with the total capacity of the facility increased by 120 MW, or 11.5 percent, to 1,160 MW.

Hydro Research Foundation announces fellowship awards

The Hydro Research Foundation (HRF) announced the selection of nine recipients of hydro fellowships. Each fellowship is worth about $94,000 to $141,000 over the two- to three-year period of study.

The Hydro Fellowship Program is designed to stimulate new student research and academic interest in research and careers in conventional or pumped-storage hydropower.

“These new fellows, representing a new generation of hydropower specialists, will provide for exciting new research for the industry,” said HRF Executive Director Linda Church-Ciocci.

The fellowships are made possible by a $3 million, three-year grant from the Wind and Waterpower Technologies Program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The recipients represent eight universities from eight states. Their areas of research include soil and rock mechanics, hydrologic modeling, operational optimization, water quality and water variability due to climate change.

The fellowships include a generous tuition allowance, living stipend, professorial honorarium, and participation in Hydro Fellows Roundtables. According to Program Manager Deborah M. Linke, another call for proposals will be issued later in 2010 that will be more focused on hydropower engineering. From that, a second round of fellows will be selected.

U.S. awards transformer contract for Ice Harbor project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded New Mexico-based Gardner Zemke a $1.8 million contract to supply a generator step-up transformer for the 603-MW Ice Harbor hydro project on the lower Snake River in Washington.

The contract includes design, manufacture and installation oversight of a 134,000 kilovolt-ampere, 13.2/115 kilovolt ODAF three-phase Class II generator step-up transformer and accessories.

Alden to host workshop on hydropower development

Fluid flow and environmental consulting company Alden Research Laboratory Inc. is planning a workshop designed to help hydro developers and municipalities deal with environmental and licensing challenges associated with developing conventional hydropower capabilities at existing dams.

Many U.S. hydropower developers are now eyeing non-powered dams as an option for adding generation.

The workshop is scheduled for Oct. 19-20, 2010, in Worcester, Mass. This “how to” event will cover the challenges in existing dam power generation, from economic modeling to addressing governmental navigational and environmental concerns.

“The processes that our clients go through to license a project is complicated,” said Alden President Stuart Cain. “We’re pleased to be able to collaborate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, turbine developers, architectural engineering firms and other experts in the field to offer this workshop and help to provide guidance.”

Historically, dams and accompanying locks were sited on many of the large rivers in the U.S. to provide enough water depth to facilitate regular navigation for freight barges and other water craft.

Many additional dams without electrical generation were built for other reasons, such as mill power and flood control. With recent high energy prices and government incentives, the installation of hydropower generation at these facilities has become economically attractive.

For more information about the workshop, or to register, visit or call Johanna Anderson at 1-508-829-6000, ext. 6508.

Earthjustice threatens to sue FERC and PG&E

A coalition of environmental and fishing groups served formal notice that it plans to sue the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) for violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the 26.65-MW DeSabla-Centerville project on Butte Creek in California.

Earthjustice sent a May 13 letter to FERC on behalf of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and other groups that have complained for several years of the effects of the DeSabla-Centerville project on Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon.

“PG&E has been operating, and continues to operate, the DeSabla-Centerville project in a manner that is likely to result in the unlawful taking of spring-run Chinook salmon in violation of Section 9 of the ESA,” Earthjustice wrote. “FERC, which retains explicit discretionary control over project operations to protect the natural resources of the project area, including the spring-run, is also in violation of Section 9 for allowing the project under its control to take this listed species.”

The coalition said it will sue unless the alleged violations are cured by the following: Initiation of ESA consultation between FERC and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS); PG&E’s application for and NMFS’ issuance of an incidental take permit for the project before migrating salmon arrive in 2010; and by modification of project operations to comply with the incidental take permit.

The coalition urged speedy action because low stream flows, warm water temperatures, and pathogenic outbreaks on Butte Creek have killed thousands of salmon in summer and early fall before they had a chance to spawn. The groups said a prohibited take of protected fish is “highly possible” again in 2010 despite voluntary measures undertaken by FERC and PG&E.

Bear River project receives LIHI certification

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) awarded PacifiCorp’s Bear River Hydroelectric Project LIHI certification.

LIHI certification for the Bear River project, on Idaho’s Bear River, is granted for a 5-year term. The Soda, Grace, and Oneida hydro plants are operated under the FERC license for the Bear River project. The hydro plants have a combined capacity of 77 MW.

Other recently-certified projects include: Clark Fork Hydroelectric Project in Idaho and Montana; Arkansas River Dam No. 2 Hydroelectric Project in Arkansas; the Alternatives Hydroelectric Project on the Mumford River in Massachusetts; and the Penacook Upper Hydroelectric Project located on the Contoocook River in New Hampshire.

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the environmental impacts of hydropower generation through the certification of hydropower projects that have avoided or reduced their environmental impacts pursuant to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute’s criteria.

Few changes made to Columbia River Basin salmon plan

The Obama administration made no significant changes to a plan to protect endangered wild salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin.

The government submitted revisions for a 2008 Bush-era biological plan to U.S. District Judge James Redden in Portland, Ore.

Redden said in February that the plan likely violated the Endangered Species Act, but he gave the government three months to review new science that might strengthen it.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommendations include studying salmon migration, monitoring water temperatures and other effects of climate change, and creating a team of fisheries managers to resolve potential harm to wild salmon runs by hatchery fish.

Opponents said they likely would fight the government’s plan if Redden approves it.

FERC relicenses historic 3.5-MW Ames project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensed the 3.5-MW Ames hydroelectric project on Colorado’s San Miguel River, granting the 119-year-old plant another 40 years of operation.

The Ames project began service in 1891 as the first power plant in the world to generate, transmit, and sell alternating current electricity for commercial purposes. The current powerhouse went into service in 1906.

FERC issued a relicense May 19, splitting off the historic Ames plant from the former 11.5-MW Tacoma-Ames project. The 8-MW Tacoma development was relicensed in January as a separate project to be expanded to 12 MW.

Project operator Public Service Co. of Colorado filed separate relicense applications for the plants, saying they constitute separate hydroelectric units in separate watersheds that can be more reasonably operated and regulated under separate licenses.

The commission relicensed Ames with several staff-recommended mitigation measures and resource agency mandatory conditions. FERC described the changes as a moderate amount of environmental measures including some construction associated with providing minimum flows to Lake Fork.

With proposed modifications in the relicense, FERC estimated the project would have a levelized annual cost of $1.4 million or $113.22 per megawatt-hour (MWh). It would produce 12,682 MWh annually, valued at $812,410, or $64.06 per MWh. In its first year of continued operation, FERC said, the project would cost $623,419, or $49.16 per MWh, more than the likely alternative cost of power.

“Although our analysis shows that the project as licensed herein would cost more to operate than the estimated cost of alternative power, it is the applicant who must decide whether to accept this license and any financial risk that entails,” FERC said.

Hawaii hydro plant gets turbine upgrades

A 4-MW hydropower project in Hawaii that supplies Kauai Coffee Company’s power generation needs while also providing 6 percent of the island of Kauai’s total power generation received a turbine upgrade from GE Energy.

On the north shore of Kauai, the Wainiha hydropower plant’s two 1906-era Pelton hydroelectric turbines have been in continuous operation for more than 100 years.

Keeping the old governors running efficiently and correctly became increasingly difficult in recent years, with malfunctions resulting in costly repairs and downtime, reports indicate.

GE Energy’s Control Solutions business upgraded the legacy mechanical control to a Mark Vie digital control with a modern hydraulic pressure unit. Upgrading the legacy control to an electrical interface was accomplished by adding an electro hydraulic interface proportional valve.

The new system automates all of the plant functions and allows for touch screen operator interface, automatic online synchronization and remote monitoring of all associated field devices.

Combined with reduced start-up time, overall power production at the plant increased by 5 to 10 percent. Excess power is sold to the local utility on Kauai.

Replacement runners sought by U.S. for Hills Creek project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeks bids for replacement of two turbine runners at 30 MW Hills Creek Dam, on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River in Oregon. Bids are due Aug. 24.

The Corps’ Portland District awarded a contract in 2006 to Lehoczky/Vanguard Joint Venture of Bradenton, Fla., for a generator uprate study at Hills Creek. The project was among 13 government dams covered by a 2008 biological opinion designed to make the dams friendlier to fish, to improve river water temperatures, and to improve fish hatchery practices.

The Corps seeks modeling, manufacturing, and installation of two new runners, including removal of existing runners at the hydro plant near Oak Ridge, Ore.

A solicitation notice may be obtained from the Federal Business Opportunities Internet site,, by entering solicitation No. W9127N09R0063 in the “Keyword/Solicitation #” box. A site visit was held June 8.

Bids are due by 11:59 p.m., Eastern time, Aug. 24. For information, contact Raymond Greenheck, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District, Portland, Contracting Division (CECT-NWP), P.O. Box 2946, Portland, OR 97208-2946; (1) 503-808-4616; E-mail:

Canyon Hydro completes manufacturing center expansion

Canyon Hydro completed a major expansion of its manufacturing facility, including the addition of a seven-axis CNC milling machine capable of fabricating Pelton and Francis hydroelectric turbines up to 16 feet in diameter.

Canyon Hydro said it is now the only turbine manufacturer in North America with the capability to fully machine Pelton runners from a single casting.

The new CNC center makes it possible for Canyon Hydro to machine all surfaces of its Pelton and Francis turbines with much greater precision. Canyon’s Pelton runners are typically milled from a single, stainless-steel casting.

The company also rebuilds turbine systems for existing hydroelectric projects. The seven-axis CNC machine can accommodate components up to 36 feet long, 16 feet in diameter, and 25 tons.

CNC machining eliminates the minor imperfections that result when turbines are hand-ground to match a series of templates. Each of those imperfections, however small, impacts the efficiency of the turbine. With CNC, every curve on the turbine precisely matches design specifications, Canyon Hydro said.

“With this investment, Canyon Hydro has set up the highest standard for turbine quality,” said Richard New, vice president of manufacturing for Canyon Hydro. “Tighter tolerances translate to better turbine efficiency, which goes right to the bottom line for our customers.”

Salmon hatchery planned for Chief Joseph Dam

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council approved plans for a hatchery at Chief Joseph Dam to help rebuild salmon runs in the upper Columbia River watershed.

The $40 million project will be funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.

The hatchery project is awaiting final approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Chief Joseph Dam and owns property where the hatchery would be built. The hatchery would produce up to 2.9 million smolts a year.

U.S. places orders for fish monitoring technology

Destron Fearing, a unit of the Digital Angel advanced technology firm, received new orders for passive integrated transponder (PIT) fish-monitoring tags from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The value of the new orders is expected to be in the range of $1.5 million to $2 million over a year.

In 2009, Bonneville Power Administration awarded contract modifications totaling $745,000 for passive integrated transponder technology and radio frequency identification technology and equipment for fish counting at hydroelectric projects in the Pacific Northwest.

The new orders extend the company’s participation in a project currently under way to continue to develop a PIT-tag system for monitoring salmonids using the spillways at hydroelectric projects in the Columbia and Snake River basins

New turbine ready for installation at Chief Joseph Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is set to install new turbine equipment to boost efficiency and power generation at the 2,457.3-MW Chief Joseph Dam in Washington.

The first new equipment to be installed is a 45-ton runner built by Alstom Hydro in Quebec. It is the first of ten that will installed by 2014 at a cost of $120 million.

At the Chief Joseph project, new runners and other improvements will increase power generation by more than 40 MW. That is enough to power more than 30,000 additional Northwest homes, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Central Vermont Public Service to buy hydroelectric assets

Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) will purchase the assets and service territory of the Vermont Marble Power Division of Omya Inc., including several small hydropower projects.

The $33.2 million sale includes rights to serve about 890 customers in Proctor, Vt., and the Omya industrial facility in Florence, Vt., which will become CVPS’ single-largest customer. The sale also includes four hydroelectric facilities with a combined capacity of 18.1 MW.

Today, CVPS serves more than 159,000 customers in 163 communities.

“This purchase will create economies of scale that will benefit all of our customers, and will lead to expansion of the generation output from the four Vermont Marble dams through increased investment,” CVPS President Bob Young said.

The sale, expected to close by the end of the year, is subject to the approval of the state Public Service Board and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

U.S. awards contract for Folsom Dam spillway work

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $16.6 million contract under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to modify the spillway piers and gates of Folsom Dam to resist seismic loadings.

The project is part of Reclamation’s Infrastructure Reliability and Safety of Dams improvements. The 198-MW Folsom Dam hydro project is located on California’s American River.

The work was awarded to Kiewit Pacific Co. of Concord, Calif. The company will make seismic improvements to the existing dam gates and piers, to include the installation of pier anchors and bracing, the replacement of existing gate arms and other equipment and preparation and support activities.

Garlock Sealing Technologies expands website

Garlock Sealing Technologies launched a new environmental section on its website to help customers reduce energy consumption, conserve water and other natural resources, and promote sustainability.

Garlock Sealing Technologies is a global leader in high-performance fluid sealing products for a variety of industries, including hydropower.

“We are committed to keeping this new section evergreen by continually updating it with information on regulatory developments, environmentally-friendly products and our own environmental performance,” said Janet C. Jessen, Garlock vice president of global marketing, innovation and engineering.

The new section reviews Garlock’s environmental stewardship, for which it has received the Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Excellence Award and other awards, as well as the continuing modernization of its Palmyra, N.Y., manufacturing facility. Visitors also can download the company’s latest environmental compliance product recommendation guide.

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