DOE allocates $30.6 million to hydroelectric projects

Up to $30.6 million in economic stimulus funds will be used to finance seven hydroelectric projects nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The additional funding means Voth Hydro, a manufacturer of hydroelectric turbines, will be able to retain 40 jobs at its manufacturing facility in York, Pa. Thanks to $13 million in stimulus funding, those employees can resume work on two replacement turbines for Alcoa Inc’s Tapoco Cheoah hydro plant in Robbinsville, N.C.

Under Secretary of Energy Kristina Johnson made the announcement during a visit to Voith Hydro’s manufacturing plant in York.

“We’re going to bring America back to making things in this country,” Johnson told workers assembled for the announcement on Nov. 4, 2009.

The other six projects selected for the federal funding are: 

o Alabama Power Company – up to $6 million for a project in Mitchell, AL - For a project that will increase efficiency and upgrade four units at three hydroelectric plants on the Coosa River by replacing 1940s to 1960s vintage turbines with new high-efficiency stainless steel turbines and runners that maximize each unit’s ability to utilize the limited available water. Generation will increase by 36,087 MWh annually (7.3% increase). 
o City of Tacoma, Department of Public Utilities - up to $4.67 million for a project in Potlatch, WA – To add two 1.8 MW Francis Turbines to the existing 81 MW Cushman No. 2 Dam, adding 23,500 MWh of annual generation (14% increase) and 3.6 MW of capacity. In addition, the project will incorporate an upstream fish collection pool to enable reintroduction of native fish above the dam for the first time since the 1920s. 
o The City of Boulder, CO – up to $1.18 million for a project in Boulder, CO – To upgrade the 100-year-old Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Project by replacing two older turbines with a single, high-efficiency unit. The new turbine would operate at a wider range of flows and higher efficiency ranges, resulting in an increase in annual generation of 11,000 MWh (30% increase). Upgrades to wiring and removal of asbestos would reduce environmental hazards and improve safety. 
o Energy Northwest - up to $800,000 for a project in Packwood, WA – To design, manufacture, and install a new state-of-the-art Pelton Wheel Turbine at the Packwood Lake Hydroelectric facility. The new turbine will have greater efficiency at low power operations, increasing annual generation by 5,868 MWh (6% increase), and will benefit the local fish population and create more sustainable habitat conditions downstream. 
o Incorporated County of Los Alamos, NM - up to $4.56 million for a project in Los Alamos, NM – To add a low flow turbine/generator to the 13.8 MW hydroelectric plant in Abiquiu, New Mexico, increasing the total plant capacity by 3 MW and allowing the dam to operate when releases are below or above the capacity of the two existing turbines. The upgrade will increase annual generation by 6,462 MWh (22% increase). The project’s environmental benefits include higher dissolved oxygen content in downstream water and increased minimum flows. 
o North Little Rock Electric Department - up to $450,000 for a project in Little Rock, AR – To install an automated intake maintenance device at its 39 MW hydroelectric facility on the Arkansas River to clear debris currently obstructing the intake and allow the facility to operate consistently at near peak efficiency and significantly reduce the high cost of dredging. Air pollution would be reduced in a non-attainment air basin as the debris has been previously burned for removal.

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