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Energy Projects Director Robinson retires from FERC; Wright named

J. Mark Robinson retired as director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects (OEP). FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff appointed OEP Deputy Director Jeff Wright the office’s new director.


Mark Robinson
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Robinson’s retirement was effective June 1, 2009. He joined FERC in 1978 years and became OEP director in 2001. During his tenure, FERC moved from offering only traditional licensing approaches to a regulatory environment that places a premium on flexibility and collaboration. In 2009, the National Hydropower Association honored Robinson for his exemplary leadership, vision, and commitment to the hydro industry. Robinson plans to continue to be a voice for the development of energy infrastructure, including hydropower.

Wright has 30 years of experience in projects. He has held a number of senior management positions within OEP, including that of deputy director to Robinson.


Jeff Wright
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Berne Mosley, director of the Division of Pipeline Certificates, is now Wright’s deputy.

OEP approves and oversees hydroelectric and natural gas pipeline energy projects. The office focuses on: project siting and development; balancing environmental and other concerns; ensuring compliance; and safeguarding the public. OEP consists of five divisions: Hydropower Licensing; Hydropower Administration and Compliance; Dam Safety & Inspections; Pipeline Certificates; and Gas-Environment and Engineering.

Fisher retires from Voith Hydro; Coulson succeeds

Richard K. Fisher, Jr., P.E., senior vice president of the Voith Hydro Engineering Center in York, Pa., retired effective the end of May 2009. Fisher’s replacement, Stuart Coulson, has taken the title of vice president of the center.

Fisher was responsible for research and development, turbine technology, new product development, and technical marketing support for Voith Hydro. He was program manager for one of the two U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Hydro Turbine System programs. Fisher’s team led the hydraulic design for modernizing the Kaplan turbines at the 1,076.6-MW Bonneville project, which were the prototypes for the company’s environmentally friendly turbine designs. He also led development of the company’s aerating turbines. From 1988 to 1993, Fisher managed the company’s Burnnenmuhle laboratory in Heidenheim, Germany. He served the company for 38 years.


Richard Fisher
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Coulson began working at Voith Hydro in April 2009. Before that, he worked at the Voith Hydro Engineering Center in Heidenheim. Coulson has worked in the hydroelectric industry for 21 years, starting as a model development engineer with General Electric.

Jim Birk remembered as founder of EPRI hydro program

Jim Birk, who was instrumental in establishing Hydro Review as a primary means of sharing technical information among North America’s hydroelectric professionals, died on May 26, 2009. He was 67.

Dr. Birk served as manager of advanced technologies at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto, Calif., and oversaw the creation of EPRI’s hydroelectric program in the mid-1980s. As part of its hydro program, EPRI began a long-term collaboration with Hydro Review by initiating, in 1984, the provision of peer-reviewed articles and technical support to the magazine.

After Birk was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he retired from EPRI in 1998. In retirement, he actively pursued interests that included bicycling and giving support to collegiate and Olympic wrestling.


Jim Birk (at left)
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Jim is survived by his wife, Sandy, and four children. Donations can be made in his memory to: The Parkinson’s Institute, 675 Almanor Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085; or to: USA Wrestling, 6155 Lehman Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80918.

Taft retires from Alden Research Laboratory; Cain succeeds

Edward P. (Ned) Taft III, president of Alden Research Laboratory Inc., retired in May 2009, citing health issues. Dr. Stuart Cain replaced Taft as president.

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Taft joined Alden in 1994 and became president in 2000. He established the Environmental Engineering & Services Group and worked to develop the company’s fish-friendly turbine technology. Before joining Alden, Taft was a program manager with Stone and Webster Engineering Corp.

Taft has taken the title of president emeritus and will maintain a role in Alden’s executive team.


Stuart Cain
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Cain joined Alden in 1996 and built the company’s numerical modeling capability. From 2003 to 2009, he served as vice president, responsible for overseeing hydraulic and numerical modeling activities and flow meter calibration. He also has served as treasurer of Alden.

Alden is a hydraulic laboratory in Holden, Mass., which provides fluid dynamics research and development to a number of industries, including power generation.

Bowers named chief, generation equipment section of HDC

Waylon Bowers, P.E., is the new chief of the generation equipment section of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Hydroelectric Design Center (HDC). Bowers took this position in February 2009.

The HDC performs engineering and design, maintains expertise, and develops standards for the Corps’ hydroelectric power facilities and large pumping plants.

Bowers has been an electrical engineer and designer with the Corps since 2004.

Before joining the Corps, Bowers worked for Intel and NEC Eluminant.

Reclamation names Arroyave Mid-Pacific deputy director

Pablo Arroyave is the new deputy regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region.

Arroyave started his new job in May, replacing former deputy regional director John Davis, who retired.

Arroyave’s 17 years of federal service includes a previous stint as assistant regional director of technical services. Earlier Reclamation jobs included that of area manager of the Klamath Basin Area Office in Klamath Falls, Ore.

In his new job, Arroyave assists Regional Director Donald Glaser in overseeing management of water projects in a region that encompasses the northern two-thirds of California and parts of western Nevada and southern Oregon. The region is headquartered in Sacramento, Calif.

Soucy appointed assistant director for Great Plains
Reclamation also announced the appointment of John Soucy to the position of assistant regional director for its Great Plains Region, headquartered in Billings, Mont.

Soucy assists Great Plains Regional Director Mike Ryan and Deputy Regional Director Gary Campbell in managing Reclamation facilities and programs. The region encompasses all or parts of nine states from Montana and North Dakota to Texas. It manages 21 hydropower plants and 80 dams and reservoirs.

Soucy joined Reclamation in 1991, and for the past 12 years served as the region’s chief information officer.

Hansen retires from Schnabel Engineering, will consult

Kenneth Hansen, senior consultant at Schnabel Engineering, retired after nearly 12 years with the firm.


Kenneth Hansen
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Hansen is working as an independent consultant, providing consulting services on roller-compacted concrete (RCC) and soil-cement applications, mainly in dams.

As senior consultant for Schnabel, Hansen was responsible for business development and branding of the firm’s Dam Engineering Group. He also provided technical consulting on RCC dams, RCC overtopping protection, and soil-cement slope protection for embankment dams.

Before joining Schnabel, Hansen worked for the Portland Cement Association (PCA). While with PCA, he was involved with the promotion of RCC and soil-cement water resources applications, mostly in the western U.S.

Stewart joins Gomez and Sullivan Engineers

Richard Stewart, P.E., joined Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, P.C., in Weare, N.H., as senior civil engineer.


Rick Stewart
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In this new position, Stewart’s responsibilities include civil works design for hydropower development projects. In addition, he will be responsible for the design of environmental enhancements, such as man-made wetlands and fish passage facilities, as well as senior oversight and guidance for hydraulic modeling.

Stewart has more than 30 years of experience in water resources and civil engineering. His previous experience includes project management for dam removal/replacement feasibility studies; fish passage design; water quality studies; environmental assessments; hydraulic and scour analyses; and design, permitting, and construction phase services.

Gomez and Sullivan is a water resources engineering and environmental science firm that specializes in surface, groundwater, and wetland resources. The company has offices in New Hampshire and New York.

Department of Interior official Finfer remembered

Larry Finfer, acting director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Department of Interior, died March 30 at his home in Washington, D.C., due to illness. He was 61.

Finfer joined the Interior Department in 1978 as a historian for the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, according to an obituary in the Washington Post. His other positions at Interior included stints as a program analyst in the secretary’s office and assistant director of communications for the Bureau of Land Management.

In 2005, Finfer participated on an interagency team that developed rules to govern administrative hearings (known as trial-type hearings) over factual disputes related to mandatory conditions and fishway prescriptions agencies add to hydropower licenses.

FPL Group names Kelliher to lead federal regulatory team

Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Joseph Kelliher joins FPL Group Inc., Juno Beach, Fla., where he is executive vice president for federal regulatory affairs. In this newly created position, Kelliher oversees all aspects of FPL Group’s federal energy regulatory policy.


Joseph Kelliher
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Kelliher served on FERC for more than five years, including more than three years as its chairman. He left the commission in March 2009 and joined FPL Group in May 2009. Kelliher’s two decades of federal experience include service in policy roles at the U.S. Department of Energy and Congress.

Stevens Water expands marketing, engineering staff

Ben Culver and Steven McCoy have joined Stevens Water Monitoring Systems.

Culver is vice president of business development. He has more than 18 years of experience in product design, project management, and business development and management in the commercial and defense sectors. His areas of expertise are radio frequency and microwave communications systems, test and measurement equipment, and antenna design.

McCoy is director of RF (radio frequency) engineering. He has more than 20 years of experience in the RF/microwave and wireless industry, with specialties in embedded RF system design, transceiver design, and implementation of radio chipsets and systems.

Stevens Water Monitoring Systems, based in Portland, Ore., designs and manufactures instrumentation for monitoring, collecting, and analyzing water conditions.


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