Industry News

Five hydroelectric projects win LIHI certification

The Governing Board of the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) granted low-impact certification to hydroelectric projects in Vermont, Oregon, and New Hampshire.

During their November 2009 meeting, board members certified the 7.4-MW Winooski One run-of-river hydroelectric project on the Winooski River in Burlington, Vt. The board also certified two small projects operated by the Farmers Irrigation District on tributaries of Oregon’s Hood River and the 840-kW Lower Robertson and 870-kW Ashuelot projects in New Hampshire.

LIHI said all of the projects “have avoided or reduced their environmental impacts pursuant to LIHI criteria.”

The Winooski One project has a refurbished spillway with crest gates abutting a historic timber crib dam. The dam is on the National Register of Historic Places. What’s more, fish passage facilities and a riverside park and trail were built as part of the project.

The two Hood River projects operated by the Farmers Irrigation District are run-of-river facilities. The water is diverted through self-cleaning, horizontal fish screens. The upper plant runs at reduced capacity if creek levels drop below a certain level. After Hood River was listed as a threat to salmon and steelhead, the district began working with state and federal agencies to improve operations and limit water temperature, LIHI said.

The Lower Robertson and Ashuelot hydroelectric projects are small, low-head, run-of-river hydroelectric plants that were built in the 1980s. Both have exemptions requiring them to adhere to standards originally issued by New Hampshire Fish & Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that instantaneous flows of 203 cubic feet per second be passed at all times.

The board unanimously approved the certification of each project.

Priest Rapids hydropower auction yields $64 million

Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) raised more than $64 million from its fifth annual power auction, held in November 2009.

The auction offered two blocks of renewable hydropower from the 855-MW Priest Rapids project on the Columbia River. Powerex Corp. bought a 12.43-percent block for $43.7 million, while PacifiCorp purchased a 6-percent block for $20.3 million.

Both companies will be allocated the power from January through December 2010. The amount of power each company receives during the 12-month period will depend primarily on Columbia River flows.

This is the fifth year of the Grant County PUD power auction. It is the only block of power offered at auction by the utility. The action was established in response to a 1998 order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that required the utility to sell a reasonable portion of its firm and non-firm power generation based on market principles.

“This contract adds competitively priced, flexible resources to our energy portfolio and will benefit our customers throughout the Northwest,” said Stefan Bird, PacifiCorp’s senior vice president for commercial and trading.

Fall Line Testing selects Arizona for headquarters

Fall Line Testing and Inspection, LLC, chose Tucson, Ariz., as its national headquarters, the company reported.

The construction testing and inspection firm purchased a 10,000-square-foot building at 3414 E. Elvira. Fall Line is an affiliate of Pittsburgh-based Paul C. Rizzo Associates, Inc.

Fall Line, which has a staff of about 30 engineers and technicians, recently completed testing for Missouri’s Taum Sauk Upper Reservoir Rebuild Project, which involved testing more than 3 million yards of concrete, the company reported. The Taum Sauk Upper Reservoir is the largest roller- compacted-concrete structure in North America.

The company also worked on the Tennessee Valley Authority-owned New Bear Creek Dam in Alabama and the Sallisaw Creek Watershed Spillway in Oklahoma. Fall Line staff members also are working on North Carolina’s Deep Creek and Catawba dams, the company reported.

NHA to accept scholarship applications

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) is accepting applications for the 2010 NHA Past Presidents’ Legacy Scholarship beginning the first week of January 2010.

The $2,000 scholarship program aims to encourage young people to consider careers in hydropower.

The scholarship is available to full-time college juniors, seniors, or graduate students with a 3.0 or better GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) for an undergraduate or graduate course of study at an accredited four-year college or university, or students with an equivalent GPA at an accredited vocational technical school or program.

Applicants must be pursuing a course of study related to the hydropower industry, such as engineering, biology, fisheries and hydrology, communications, or environmental studies.

Applications are available on the NHA website, Application deadline is Feb. 15, 2010, and the scholarship will be presented at the NHA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., in April 2010.

Churchill Falls seeks Upper Churchill negotiation

Churchill Falls Corp. has asked Hydro-Quebec to enter into negotiations regarding the Upper Churchill power contract pricing.

Ed Martin, Churchill Falls Corp. president and president and chief executive officer of Nalcor Energy, said he has asked Hydro-Quebec to renegotiate pricing terms for the remainder of the 1969 contract to “establish a fair and equitable return to both (Churchill Falls Corporation) and Hydro-Quebec for the future.”

The purchase price under the existing contract is one-quarter of one cent per kilowatt-hour and the renewal contract fixes the purchase price at one-fifth of one cent for the 25-year period beginning in 2016, according to Nalcor Energy.

That means Upper Churchill power will be sold to Hydro-Quebec at a fraction of its value for the remaining 32 years of the contract, according to Nalcor Energy.

Churchill Falls Corp. asked Hydro-Quebec to reply to its request to commence negotiations by Jan. 15, 2010.

Researchers measure Idaho’s hydropower potential

Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory have identified 6,700 additional sites in Idaho that could be used to build hydroelectric projects, the Idaho Statesman reported.

The new plants could generate up to 2,100 MW, researchers found.

That would increase the state’s hydropower capacity by 22 percent, the newspaper wrote. Hydropower accounts for nearly all of Idaho’s renewable energy capacity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Northwestern Energy buying 13 MW of hydropower

Northwestern Energy, an electric utility serving 656,000 customers in Montana, bought 13 MW of capacity from a hydroelectric project under construction near Fairfield, Mont.

The hydro plant, located on an irrigation canal in Teton County, is owned by Turnbull Hydro LLC and is expected to begin commercial operations in 2011.

The 20-year power purchase agreement will help Northwestern meet new state standards for renewable power, said John Hines, the utility’s chief supply officer. Under Montana law, 15 percent of a utility’s power must be made from renewable resources by 2015.

“This project fits nicely in our portfolio of electric resources,” Hines said. “This hydro facility will provide our customers with a stable, reliable source of cost effective electricity that has no carbon emissions.”

GEI Consultants selected for Long Hollow project

GEI Consultants Inc. will provide dam engineering services for the Long Hollow Dam and Reservoir project on the La Plata River near Durango, Colo.

GEI said it will design the dam, foundation, outlet works, and emergency spillway. The 125-foot-high dam will be built on Long Hollow channel, about a half-mile upstream from the La Plata River.

According to GEI, the project will help the state meet its obligations under the La Plata River Compact by improving water flow to New Mexico. The reservoir will provide storage capacity and a reserve pool designated for release during low-flow river conditions to meet compact requirements with New Mexico, GEI said.

What’s more, the project will supply supplemental water to irrigated lands within the La Plata Water Conservancy District.

This is the second Colorado state compact project in which GEI is participating. GEI is also working with the Republican River Conservancy District for design and construction services for a pipeline to improve administration of the Republican River Compact with Nebraska and Kansas.

Peak Hydro awarded contract for ring repairs at Blue Mesa

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $458,534 contract to Peak Hydro Services of Chattanooga, Tenn., to repair draft tube discharge rings at the 86.4-MW Blue Mesa hydroelectric plant.

The plant is part of the 1,747-MW Colorado River Storage Project near Montrose, Colo.

Under the contract, Peak Hydro will repair draft tube discharge rings for Blue Mesa’s two Francis turbines. The turbine diameter is 10 feet, while the discharge ring diameter is 8 feet, 1 inch.

The rings have been damaged by cavitation. A previous attempt to repair the damage through the installation of steel plates failed. Peak Hydro must remove the remaining plates prior to weld repair and devise the best method to repair the damage.

PPL sells six hydroelectric projects in Maine

PPL Corp. sold six hydroelectric projects in Maine to Black Bear Hydro Partners LLC, an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners LLC, for $81 million.

The deal includes five plants with a combined capacity of 23 MW as well as a 50-percent share of the 13-MW West Enfield plant. ArcLight already owns a 50-percent stake in West Enfield. The transaction also includes the Milford, Orono, Stillwater, Ellsworth, and Medway projects.

“These have been good assets for us in Maine but are not core to our concentrated generation positions in the PJM Interconnection and in the Northwest,” said PPL Chief Operating Officer William Spence.

NASCAR attraction will be ready for HydroVision International 2010

In addition to networking with hundreds of hydropower professionals, delegates at HydroVision International 2010 can pay a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The 150,000-square-foot attraction is under construction next to the Charlotte Convention Center, where HydroVision International will be held July 27-30. The NASCAR Hall of Fame opens May 11 and includes 40,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, artifacts, and retail space.

The high-tech attraction also features a 275-seat theater, a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, a racing simulator, and the Hall of Honor for inductees. The first five-member class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was selected earlier this month. They are: Bill France Sr., Richard Petty, Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt, and Junior Johnson. All five will be inducted May 23.

To become a sponsor or exhibitor, call PennWell Corp. at (918) 832-9360.

RBC Bearings acquires Lubron for $2.9 million

RBC Bearings Inc. has acquired certain assets of Lubron Bearing Systems of Huntington Beach, Calif., for about $2.9 million.

Lubron manufactures self-lubricating bearings used in bridge building, power generation, subsea oil production, and earthquake seismic isolation. Recent projects include Grand Coulee Dam and nuclear power plants in Korea.

“The addition of Lubron’s very unique and complimentary bearings to our portfolio of highly engineered products increases the breadth of our current offering to customers while also increasing our prospects for future growth,” said RBC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Hartnett.

Climax awarded contract for Markland Locks and Dams repairs

Climax Portable Machine Tools received a $1.5 million contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to refurbish the Markland Locks and Dams on the Ohio River. According to Climax, the project will create 30 jobs in Oregon.

Climax will refurbish the lock doors and door quoins. Frequent repairs to the gates have led to uneven sealing surfaces. Climax will design, fabricate, and fully test two large-scale, custom-made vertical milling machines that can travel up to 70 feet in height in a single pass and remove up to 1.5 inches of material over multiple passes.

The company is required by the Corps to complete the work in 17 days. The milling machines are scheduled to be delivered in March 2010 and the work is expected to be completed by May 2010.

Federal economic stimulus dollars are being used to fund the project.

“Investing in repairing our nation’s road, bridges and dams will not only improve the flow of commerce but also create meaningful work, paying dividends for years to come,” said Geoff Gilmore, president and chief executive officer of Climax.

Reclamation awards Grand Coulee improvement contract

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation awarded Albuquerque, N.M.-based Gardner Zemke Co. a $26 million contract to replace six transformers at the 6,809-MW Grand Coulee project on the Columbia River, about 90 miles west of Spokane, Wash.

The current transformers have been in continuous service since 1975 and have been deemed unreliable and in deteriorating condition, Reclamation said.

In addition to furnishing and installing six new transformers, Gardner will remove and store/dispose of the existing transformers. What’s more, the company will perform any modifications necessary to accommodate the installation and operation of the new transformers, Reclamation said.

The improvements “are needed to ensure continued operation and reliability to provide electrical power in the Pacific Northwest,” said Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor. “The economic impact of interrupted public power generation would be substantial if these generating units are not repaired.”

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