Industry News

PG&E joins other California utilities to host HydroVision International

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) agreed to be an official host utility for HydroVision International 2011 in Sacramento, Calif.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District and California Department of Water Resources earlier agreed to be host utilities for the event.

HydroVision International 2011 is scheduled for July 19-22 in the Sacramento Convention Center. The four-day event will bring more than 2,500 hydropower professionals from throughout the world to the Sacramento area and is expected to generate about $4 million in direct spending for the local economy.

The conference and trade show will feature a large exhibition floor and more than 400 speakers who will discuss a wide range of topics and issues, from project planning to new innovations in hydrokinetic energy production. Also, a technical tour of the 760-MW Oroville project on the Feather River will be offered to conference delegates. Oroville Dam, at 770 feet high, is the tallest dam in the U.S.

New powerhouse to aid salmon, boost power output

Washington-based Puget Sound Energy (PSE) started construction of a new powerhouse on northwest Washington’s Baker River to aid salmon runs while boosting the utility’s output of hydropower.

The 30-MW plant is the latest in a series of fish-enhancement initiatives undertaken by PSE as part of its 50-year federal operating license for the Baker River Hydroelectric Project. Among other things, the 2008 license requires a minimum downstream flow from PSE’s Lower Baker Dam of at least 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The project’s previous license, issued in 1956, required flows of about 80 cfs to support upstream fish-passage facilities.

Besides increasing the minimum downstream flows passing through Lower Baker Dam, the new powerhouse’s 30-MW turbine will reduce the speed at which PSE is able to take its power-generating operation offline. A slower ramping rate lessens the chances of juvenile salmon becoming stranded in side channels along the river as downstream water levels rise or fall. Resource agencies say the increase in downstream flows and a slower ramping rate will help salmon migration and spawning.

The new powerhouse, scheduled for completion in late 2013, will raise the capacity of PSE’s two Baker River dams from 170 MW to 200 MW, enough peak output to serve 150,000 households.

JHP & Associates to upgrade runners at California project

Isabella Partners placed an order for two runner replacements with JHP & Associates Inc., a turnkey equipment solution provider with its own engineering and designing capabilities from China for its clients in the hydro industry.

The original two 8-MW Francis turbine-generator sets were installed at Lake Isabella Dam in 1989, near Bakersfield, Calif. Both units were made by one of the two largest turbine-generator manufacturers in China and represented the best technology China had to offer at the time.

After three decades of operation, Isabella Partners started to look into repair or replacement options for the runners. The owner conducted research, contacted multiple factories, and went to China to investigate the potential manufacturers for the runner replacement, as well as for future projects. JHP was the only firm that proposed and guaranteed an improved design for the replacement runners, JHP reported.

Overall efficiency will be significantly improved throughout the full design flow range compared to the existing one. The contract also includes the replacement of the discharge ring, draft tube connecting pipe and complete new mounting nuts/bolts. The delivery is scheduled for July 2011.

Waukesha Bearings acquires KMC and Bearings Plus

Waukesha Bearings Corp., an operating unit within Dover Corporation’s Fluid Management segment, has acquired KMC Inc. and Bearings Plus Inc., leaders in the design, analysis, and manufacturing of engineered fluid film bearings and seals.

KMC is located in West Greenwich, R.I., and Bearings Plus is headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The acquisition of KMC and Bearings Plus extends Waukesha’s bearing solutions for oil & gas and large scale power generation applications, Waukesha said.

Piedmont commissions energy recovery system

Piedmont Hydro Technologies LLC, a North Carolina-based manufacturer of control systems for small hydropower applications, commissioned equipment for a 10-kW wastewater energy recovery system at the Warren, Ohio, water pollution control facility.

Piedmont supplied the induction generator, control and protection system, switchgear, and auxiliaries. The James Leffel and Co. supplied a Francis turbine. The general contractor was Shook Construction Inc.

Treated municipal wastewater, which flowed from a dechlorination tank over a weir, now operates the turbine that uses all flow up to 15 million gallons per day. The generator operates in parallel with grid power and reduces the electrical usage of the facility. The generator, mechanical, and electrical systems were designed in close cooperation between Piedmont and Leffel.

Brookfield Renewable Power seeks delay in fish plan

Brookfield Renewable Power is asking for more time from federal regulators to install a fish-friendly hydro turbine at its 39-MW hydro plant at Cohoes Falls.

Under the requirements of its 40-year license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2007, Brookfield is expected to install the new type of turbine by 2012, wire services reported.

In 2009, Brookfield asked to delay deployment of the fish-friendly turbine by two years because it was still in development by Alden Research Laboratory in Holden, Mass., which is designing the new technology in conjunction with EPRI.

That design process is still ongoing, and on Jan. 6, 2011, Brookfield wrote a letter to FERC asking for another extension, this time for three years. If approved by FERC, the new deadline to start construction would be in 2014, with the project completed by 2017.

Auditor: 100 dams rated unsafe, poor in Massachusetts

One hundred dams owned by municipalities in Massachusetts are in poor or unsafe condition, according to a state auditor’s report. In many cases, local officials have not prepared emergency plans in case those dams fail, the report found.

Ninety-four of the dams are rated in poor condition, while six are rated unsafe, the auditor’s office said in a statement. The six unsafe dams are in Foxborough (two), Athol, Bolton, Danvers, and Dudley.

Auditor Joe DeNucci called for creation of a no-interest revolving loan program to help cities and towns pay for the estimated $60 million needed to repair the dams. He also said recent budget cuts have left the state Office of Dam Safety understaffed.

FERC accepts surrender of three Maine projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) accepted the surrender of three hydropower licenses by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, clearing the way for removal of the 7.9-MW Great Works and 8.4-MW Veazie project dams and bypassing of the 1.875-MW Howland project in Maine’s Penobscot River Basin.

Penobscot River Restoration Trust raised $25 million to acquire from PPL Corp. and remove Great Works and Veazie dams and bypass the Howland project to open hundreds of miles of the Penobscot River system to Atlantic salmon and other fish. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration requested information in June 2010 from contractors able to research survival estimates for Atlantic salmon at 15 hydro projects on the Penobscot, including Great Works, Veazie, and Howland.

Under a salmon restoration agreement, PPL agreed to sell the three projects in exchange for provisions letting it improve its remaining hydro projects on the river in order to retain more than 90 percent of its original generation. However, the Pennsylvania utility agreed in July 2009 to sell the remainder of its PPL Maine hydro generation business to Black Bear Hydro Partners LLC, an affiliate of Arclight Capital Partners LLC. PPL had stakes in six projects totaling 38 MW.

Upgrades planned byBonneville Power Administration

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) said it will spend about $2 billion in federal stimulus dollars to upgrade aging infrastructure at hydropower projects, enhance power transmission lines, and restore fish populations.

BPA has identified up to $2 billion in major projects for which it will use Recovery Act funds and to date has spent $174.4 million on these projects, which will enhance transmission and hydro system infrastructure, create hundreds of new jobs, implement energy efficiency and construct fish hatcheries, BPA reported.


In the January issue of Hydro Review, a photo caption incorrectly identified the completion date of the Lower Saint Anthony Falls hydro project. The project, owned by Brookfield Renewable Power and Nelson Energy, is expected to be completed in April 2011.

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