Industry News

Boulder completes rehabilitation of 5-MW project

The two-and-a-half year modernization of Colorado’s 5-MW Boulder Canyon facility is complete. The work was funded in part by a $1.18 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Boulder Canyon has operated continuously since 1910, although the city says production was expected to cease within five years had rehabilitation not been undertaken.

The modernization saw the removal of one of the existing turbine-generator units, which was replaced with a Canyon Hydro-manufactured Pelton turbine.

“The effort to upgrade the turbines was arduous and complex,” says Director of Public Works for Utilities Jeff Arthur. “The city was concerned with continuing operations at the facility, increasing power generation, and improving safety, but equally as important was preserving the historical significance of the plant.”

Work at Boulder Canyon also included the installation of improved lightning protection, a turbine isolation valve, and remote monitoring and operation equipment, as well as transformer replacement.

Wisconsin city opens new powerhouse at rebuilt dam

The city of Black River Falls, Wis., has held a grand opening ceremony for a new powerhouse at Black River Falls Dam.

The new dam and a second powerhouse cost about $9.5 million. The old dam had eight gates, and the new dam has wider spillway bays with six gates that are 14 feet by 27 feet. It took nearly seven years to build the dam, with a feasibility study that began in September 2006 and construction completed in March 2012. More than 2,500 cubic yards of rock had to be excavated and 14 million pounds of steel-reinforced concrete poured.

A new East Powerhouse was built, with a height of more than six stories. This powerhouse contains a 550-kW low-flow continuous generation turbine. Combined with the other two turbines in the existing powerhouse, this facility provides a capacity of 1.5 MW and can supply 12% of the city’s annual energy needs.

Canadian Hydro Components supplied the water-to-wire package for the powerhouse, which included a 1.25-meter vertical axial flow turbine, generator, switchgear and controls.

FERC OKs two Maine expansions, licenses 4-MW Broken Bow

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved license amendments expanding two Maine projects and licensed Oklahoma’s 4-MW Broken Bow Re-Regulation Dam during September.

The Energy Infrastructure Update for September 2012, issued by FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, showed the commission also issued a conduit exemption for a California project.

FERC issued orders to Black Bear Hydro Partners LLC amending licenses to expand the 1.95-MW Stillwater and 2.332-MW Orono projects on the Stillwater Branch of the Penobscot River in Maine. Black Bear is to construct a second three-unit powerhouse at each, increasing Stillwater to 4.179 MW and Orono to 6.082 MW.

Support for this expansion was part of a settlement between government and private groups with Black Bear’s predecessor, PPL Corp. PPL sold the Penobscot River Restoration Trust three other Penobscot River projects, 8.4-MW Veazie, 7.9-MW Great Works, and 1.9-MW Howland. Black Bear acquired Stillwater and Orono from PPL in 2009.

FERC issued an original license to the city of Broken Bow, Okla., for the proposed Broken Bow Re-regulation Dam project on Mountain Fork River in McCurtain County, Okla. The city is to build the project at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Broken Bow Re-regulation Dam, part of the Corps’ 100-MW Broken Bow project.

The commission also issued a conduit exemption from licensing to Calleguas Municipal Water District for the 330-kW Grandsen project on Moorpark Feeder next to the Grandsen Pump Station in Ventura County, Calif.

During August, FERC issued its first wave-power project license and a relicense that boosted a project by 42 MW.

FERC issued a 35-year license to a unit of Ocean Power Technologies for the nation’s first commercial-scale wave power project, the 1.5-MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park off the coast of Reedsport, Ore. The hydrokinetic project consists of 10 PowerBuoy wave energy converters to be installed in a 35-acre area of the Pacific Ocean 2.5 miles off the coast of Douglas County, Ore.

The commission also relicensed the 6-MW Green Island project, allowing an increase in installed capacity to 48 MW. Green Island Power Authority operates the project at the Corps’ Green Island-Troy Lock and Dam on the Hudson River in Albany County, N.Y.

FERC also issued an original license to Whitman River Dam for the 145-kW Crocker Dam project on the existing Crocker Pond Dam on Whitman River in Westminster, Mass., and two conduit exemptions to Silt Water Conservancy District for its 75-kW Harvey Gap 50 project and 875-kW Harvey Gap 400 projects on the district’s irrigation system in Mesa County, Colo.

FERC began making the monthly update public in December 2010. The September 2012 update may be obtained at

Many hydro companies on Engineering News-Record‘s Top 200

Several companies that work in the North American hydropower industry were included in Engineering News-Record magazine’s Top 200 Environmental Firms in the country.

ENR publishes annual rankings of the largest environmental firms in the U.S., measured by gross revenue. The magazine says overall revenue for companies on its list were up 5% in 2011 to $54.1 billion.

Companies among the top 50 include:

– CH2M HILL Ltd., Englewood, Colo.;

– URS Corp., New York;

– Veolia Environmental S.A., Chicago;

– Bechtel Corp., San Francisco, Calif.;

– Tetra Tech, Pasadena, Calif.;

– AECOM Technology Corp., New York;

– The Shaw Group, Baton Rouge, La.;

– MWH Global, Broomfield, Colo.;

– ARCADIS U.S. Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo.;

– Kiewit Corp., Omaha, Neb.;

– Golder Associates Corp., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada;

– Black & Veatch, Overland Park, Kan.;

– HDR, Omaha;

– Stantec Inc., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada;

– Skanka USA Inc., East Elmhurst, N.Y.;

– Louis Berger, Morristown, N.J.;

– Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York;

– Brown and Caldwell, Walnut Creek, Calif.; and

– Geosyntec Consultants, Atlanta.

Other hydro industry companies rounding out the top 200 include O’Brien & Gere, Kleinfelder, Barnard Construction Co., Brasfield & Gorrie, Gannett Fleming, Terracon Consultants, GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., Freese and Nichols Inc., Barr Engineering, Parametrix, GEI Consultants, and Normandeau Associates Inc.

Linke takes over as Hydro Research Foundation executive director

The Hydro Research Foundation’s Board of Directors has selected Deborah Linke as its new executive director.

The change will transition Linke from her current role as program director for the foundation’s Hydro Fellowship program, which she has headed for the past three years.

“The foundation is moving into an exciting time for its future growth and change,” Linke says. “I am delighted to be part of that change.”

Linke is taking over for Linda Church Ciocci, who served as HRF’s executive director for nearly two decades. Linke will work from a new office in Colorado, which HRF says will allow it to concentrate its efforts on expanding programs. “Her management skills and passion for hydro align well with the foundation’s principal objectives of facilitating research and promoting educational opportunities that communicate the value of hydropower,” Stearnes says.

HRF has also announced that Brenna Vaughn will be the new program director for the Hydro Fellowship program.

FERC approves transfer of Tapoco from Alcoa to Brookfield

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the license transfer of the 377.7-MW Tapoco project from Alcoa Power Generating Inc. to a unit of Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners.

The Oct. 4 FERC order approves Brookfield’s acquisition of Tapoco on the Little Tennessee and Cheoah rivers in North Carolina and Tennessee for $600 million from aluminum producer Alcoa.

The transfer to Brookfield Smoky Mountain Hydropower includes 86 miles of transmission line, 14,500 acres, and four generating stations and dams, Cheoah, Calderwood, Chilhowee and Santeetlah. Alcoa developed Tapoco between 1919 and 1957 to power its aluminum smelting and rolling mill in Alcoa, Tenn.

FERC said the transfer to Canada-based Brookfield is contingent on transfer of title of all properties, including all dam safety related documents and license documents, as well as Brookfield’s formal acceptance of the license terms and conditions.

Brookfield Renewable Energy said it is to own about 25% of the project and will integrate the assets into its North American operating platform. It said the remaining equity interest will be funded by an institutional fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management.

Alcoa modernizes 140-MW Cheoah

Prior to handover of the Tapoco project, Alcoa announced commissioning of a $110 million modernization project at the project’s 140-MW Cheoah development in North Carolina, increasing efficiency and output and extending life of the development by 40 to 50 years.

The modernization includes upgrades to four of Cheoah’s five turbine-generators, along with process and utility systems such as transformers, switchgear, power and control wiring, piping, and fire protection equipment. Another two units are to be upgraded during the second phase of the modernization, with completion expected in spring 2013.

The Department of Energy awarded Alcoa a $12.95 million grant for the work as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Mark Gross, Alcoa Power Generating’s hydro operations manager, said the work exceeded a DOE goal of a 28% increase of generating capacity, demonstrating a 50% increase.

Corps awards multiple hydropower, dam contracts

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded contracts for work at three projects with a total value of $19 million.

Voith Hydro won a contract worth US$13.1 million to rehabilitate a turbine-generator unit at 185.3-MW Fort Peck near Glasgow, Mont. Work includes engineering and design of a new vertical-axis Francis unit to replace one that has been in daily use since 1943. The contract calls for the turbine to be optimized to specified peak performance at a head of 190 feet. Voith Hydro will also be responsible for a generator restack and rewind, and refurbishment of wicket gates, linkages, operating rings, servos, head covers, stay rings and thrust bearings.

Another large contract, worth US$4.7 million, went to TAB Construction Co. for work at Bolivar Dam on Sandy Creek in northeastern Ohio. The work includes installation of six service gates and the rehabilitation of gate works at the flood control structure. TAB will install six service gates in the dam’s intake structure – including five to be fabricated and a sixth to be supplied by the government. Other work includes rehabilitation of gate recesses and upgrade of service gate machinery and electrical components.

Finally, the Corps has awarded a contract worth US$943,949 to M.J. Hughes Construction Inc. to install permanent concrete bulkheads in a juvenile fish collection channel at the 980-MW McNary project on the Washington/Oregon boundary along the Columbia River. As per the contract, M.J. Hughes will replace three steel regulating weirs with six pre-cast concrete bulkheads. The bulkhead dimensions are 20 feet wide, 10 feet tall and 1.5 feet thick. The area is to be dewatered using a contractor-fabricated temporary steel bulkhead.

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