Tech Briefs

Snoqualmie Falls project honored with USSD award

The Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Redevelopment Project was selected by the U.S. Society on Dams (USSD) as its Excellence in the Constructed Project award recipient for 2014. This is USSD’s top award for completed work, established to recognize those who “meet the challenges of the nation’s aging infrastructure in an era of limited financial resources and increasing environmental awareness.” USSD honored contractor Barnard Construction Company Inc., owner Puget Sound Energy Inc. (PSE), and design engineer Klohn Crippen Berger.

Built in 1898, Plant 1 at the Snoqualmie Falls facility was the world’s first completely underground powerhouse, constructed in a cavern 270 feet below Snoqualmie Falls. Plant 2, a quarter mile downstream from Plant 1, was built in 1910 and expanded in 1957. PSE sought to redevelop the facility for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing and long-term use. The site was unique: work took place in water, on water, below ground, directly upstream and downstream of a 30-story waterfall, down a 60% grade slope, directly beneath a luxury hotel focused on its outdoor setting, interspersed with public access for roughly 2 million visitors per year, and requiring historic preservation in many areas.

The project’s scope included rebuilding a concrete diversion dam, enlarging the underground powerhouse, replacing 800 feet of penstock, building operator facilities above ground for the second powerhouse, renovating historical outbuildings, and creating public parks and trails.

The Snoqualmie Falls facility’s capacity has been increased from 44 MW to 54 MW. This increase is being achieved through greater plant efficiencies and without diverting any additional water from the river to feed the seven turbines.

FERC approved plans by PSE to perform the $250 million renovations in 2009. The project reopened in 2013.

New technology finalist for emerging technology award

Humpback Hydro Inc. was named one of three finalists in the Award for Excellence in Emerging Technology category at the annual GLOBE Award competition.

This award is given to a Canadian company that has made progress in advancing current environmental technologies or is on the cutting edge in pursuing new and emerging technologies. It recognizes the technology with the most promising potential to provide the greatest financial return from broad commercial application.

Humpback Hydro is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and has developed a unique energy storage solution using pumped-storage hydro technology. The company’s concept involves platform located meters offshore that hosts large holding tanks. Water would be pumped from the body of water into the tanks, then be run through turbines before being returned to the ocean or lake. Humpback Hydro says the technology is flexible and scalable from 1 MW to 1,000 MW or more.

The GLOBE Foundation supports the commitment of Canadian business leaders by recognizing outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship through its GLOBE Awards for Environmental Excellence.

The winner of the award was Solegear Bioplastics Inc.

New control system on line at 6.8-GW Grand Coulee plant

A new control system implemented by communications technology company Real-Time Innovations is now operational at the 6,809-MW Grand Coulee hydroelectric plant.

The “RTI Connext DDS” system installed by Real-Time Innovations replaces a previous supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers modernization program.

RTI said the system must control 24 turbine units and 12 pumps, spread across Grand Coulee’s four major power plants. The system must also handle three high-voltage transmission switchyards and a fully-redundant control room while distributing up to 300,000 data values reliably over large distances.

“This is perhaps the most challenging and mission-critical control system in the power industry,” said Dave Brown, chief of the USACE Automated Controls and Cyber Security branch. “The RTI middleware implements our communications, module failover, wide-area routing, control room integration, and operator interface. Our extensive tests proved that the new control system is capable of handling all our performance, scale, reliability, and scalability requirements.”

ASCE releases book evaluating its Raise the Bar initiative

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) introduces Raise the Bar: Strengthening the Civil Engineering Profession.

This 272-page book provides engineering educators and practitioners with a synopsis of the initiative to redefine the preparation of the engineer of the 21st century, ASCE says. Since 1998, ASCE has articulated the position that, in the future, education beyond the baccalaureate degree would be necessary for entry into the professional practice of civil engineering. ASCE has advocated changing the way today’s engineering students are prepared to be tomorrow’s civil engineers through a variety of efforts, including the development and implementation of a civil engineering body of knowledge, changes in accreditation criteria and modification of state laws for licensure.

The book contains 10 papers recording the history and evaluating the effectiveness of ASCE’s Raise the Bar initiative. The papers include information about the broad areas of professionalism, the body of knowledge, curricula and experiential development, accreditation and licensing.

Jeffrey S. Russell, PhD, P.E., and Thomas A. Lenox, PhD, edited the book.

– The book can be purchased for $45 for ASCE members and $60 for non-members at

OWA adds to best practices for hydroelectric power developers

The Ontario Waterpower Association has released two best management practices (BMPs) for hydropower development.

The first was developed in partnership with conservation group Ducks Unlimited Canada and focuses on minimizing the impact of hydropower projects on wetland form and function during construction. The BMP also works to identify opportunities for wetland creation and enhancement.

“Working with industry partners is an important means of protecting and increasing the number of wetland acres in Ontario,” said Mark Gloutney, director of regional operations, eastern region for Ducks Unlimited Canada. “It is encouraging to see that the importance of wetlands is being kept firmly in mind.”

The second BMP addresses key considerations with regard to migratory birds and was created with guidance from the Canadian Wildlife Service. The guideline aims to protect and conserve migratory bird populations and their habitats during construction activities, and to identify opportunities for habitat enhancement.

Both BMPs are supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and authored by Natural Resource Solutions Inc., OWA said. The practices will be added to its “Best Management Practices Guide for the Mitigation of Impacts of Waterpower Facility Construction,” at

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