The Hydropower Industry's Pursuit of Excellence
What if you could prevent an event or accident at your facility before it happened, and what is that worth? What if you had advance information that alerted you to a potential issue and you were able to avoid an employee accident or lost time, a forced outage, or a multi-million dollar equipment repair?
Although we cannot predict the future and events will happen, NHA's Operational Excellence (OpEx) program is developing a forum that is intended to share critical information in order to reduce risk, assist with making informed prospective decisions, and help the industry achieve a high level of operational excellence. It is not a novel idea, as examples exist in various forms in the nuclear industry and at the Federal Aviation Administration, to name a couple. Until recently, however, the hydropower industry lacked such a program.
Safety (employee, public and dam) has always been a major focus for facility owners. However, the average age of a hydroelectric facility in North America is 54 years, and as equipment wears and maintenance schedules increase and components are replaced or refurbished, operational reliability is also an increasing concern for many owners and operators. The sharing of safety, operations, maintenance and environmental events (Operational Excellence Information or OEI) and their solutions, lessons learned and best practices is one way the hydropower industry can respond to these increasing concerns and continue to operate safely, reliably and efficiently.
NHA's operational excellence program and task force
In 2012, NHA created the Operational Excellence Task Force composed of industry members and charged with identifying the resources needed to achieve a high level of operational excellence at hydropower facilities.
The task force researched within and outside the industry for examples on how NHA could most effectively assist the industry in achieving operational excellence. The research revealed that quality hydropower information exists, but this information is fragmented, difficult to navigate and not broadly communicated. We also learned that some industries, in order to avoid or prevent the occurrence and recurrence of adverse events, have developed Event Reporting (ER) programs where critical information is shared through a central database.
The task force agreed that developing a hydropower ER program where the industry could voluntarily submit and receive OEI would be invaluable. To guide the process, the task force developed a mission statement and set goals.
Our mission is bold: instill a culture of operational excellence at existing and future hydropower facilities that encourages the aggressive critical self-review and analysis of safety, operations, maintenance, and environmental events.
Our goals are achievable:
- Be the recognized industry leader in providing a systematic means and forum for sharing hydropower operating experiences, best practices and lessons learned among the industry in a timely manner;
- Raise the hydropower industry's standard of performance by learning from the operating experiences from others and provide training and educational opportunities thereof; and
- Prevent the occurrence and recurrence of similar events, and avoid defining events.
OpEx pilot program
On Oct. 1, 2012, we put our mission and goals to the test and launched the OpEx pilot program. The pilot group includes 10 NHA member companies that are responsible for developing the manuals and templates required for the ER program. They are also the first participants to submit, share and learn from actual ERs.
To date, the pilot group has shared and conducted analysis on a number of ERs. We are excited by the valuable lessons learned and best practices that have emerged in the areas of crane operations, fish ladder equipment and operations, gate operations, oil containment, and forced outage prevention, to name a few.
The task force will be adding additional pilot participants and expanding the OpEx program to our larger membership throughout the year.
Moving forward on OpEx
As the U.S. experiences a renewed focus on growing the hydropower industry and new development, we must be prepared to operate with the highest standards possible.
The OpEx program is the first of its kind, and we seek to make the U.S. hydropower industry the best worldwide. By bringing together both the federal and non-federal owners and operators to share operational challenges, reduce risk and increase our safety record, we will be the admiration of the world.
We invite the rest of the hydropower industry to join us. For more information contact Dave Zayas, NHA's manager of regulatory affairs and technical services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 682-1700.
Upcoming NHA 2013 Meetings
Every year NHA aims to provide multiple opportunities for hydropower professionals to connect. Already this year, NHA brought together over 120 industry professionals at the California Regional Meeting to discuss a wide range of issues including market considerations in integrating intermittent renewables; NERC/WECC compliance; coordinating federal and state agency requirements, and effective methods of sharing best practices.
Join NHA in 2013 at our upcoming meetings where we discuss opportunities to finance hydropower projects, pursue operational excellence, and explore regional issues. To learn more visit www.hydro.org/events.
May 15-16 - Midwest Regional Meeting with MWHUG - Wisconsin Dells, WI
Meeting includes an optional tour of Delton Dam on May 15th, followed by a Midwest Hydro Users Group (MHUG) owners meeting in the afternoon. The NHA regional meeting on the 16th will have several panel and roundtable discussions on the reconstruction of the Byllesby Dam spillway, controlling invasive species, climate change and what it means for the Midwest, and update on Midwest Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP) studies, and an interactive discussion about dam safety and compliance issues.
June 3 - Hydropower Finance Summit - New York, NY
NHA's Hydro Finance Summit on June 3rd is an exciting opportunity to bridge the gap between investors and developers in the hydropower industry. Over $240 billion of hydropower investment is needed to be made by independent power producers, private equity, municipalities, and investor-owned utilities in order to realize hydro's potential in the US. Meet with key players of the hydropower industry and the financial community to share information and collaborate on ways to maximize development of all hydropower technologies.
September 9-11 - Hydraulic Power Committee Meeting - Spokane, WA (Hosted by Avista)
This popular annual event brings together plant managers and operators, compliance staff, dam safety and security professionals and the industry that supports them. This two and a half day program includes best practice sharing, technical presentations, and interactive discussion on all topics O&M and dam safety. Learn more about NHA's Operational Excellence event reporting program and more. Tour the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Grand Coulee Hydroelectric Project.
September 26-27 - Alaska Regional Meeting - Girdwood, AK (co-located with APA annual meeting)
Join NHA at this issue-focused meeting being co-located with the Alaska Power Association's annual conference in Girdwood, AK. This meeting will focus on identified obstacles to hydropower development in the state and how to resolve the issues.
October 2-3 - Northeast Regional Meeting - Northampton, MA (Hosted by First Light Power)
Compliments of First Light Power-GDF Suez, tour Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project on October 2nd and attend the NHA Northeast regional meeting on October 3rd. This meeting will include topics of regional interest to hydropower owner operators.
What you can do as an industry member? Join our effort. Help take our messages to Congress, the administration, your state legislators and local officials. Make sure they know how important hydropower generation is to your company and your community.
Here's just a few steps you can take to help get this message out.
1. Invite your congressional representatives to your projects, manufacturing plants and companies. Make sure they understand how important hydropower is to your business, and share with them NHA's facts sheets on policies important to our industry;
2. Attend your congressional members' town meetings when they are back in their districts. Ask them how they are improving federal policy supporting the nation's No. 1 renewable resource back in Washington;
3. Check your company's website. Does it include hydropower? How does it position hydropower as a clean and important national, regional and local resource? Does it link to NHA's website and industry policy needs?
4. When your chief executive officers come to Washington, D.C., to talk about issues important to your company, do they include hydropower? Do they mention the importance hydropower has played to their electric system? They should, even if only in passing to the major topic of the day.
5. Reach out to local reporters and talk to them about your hydropower plants, your manufacturing facility, and your hydro business. Engage them in newsworthy opportunities like ribbon cutting and facility expansions.
6. Visit us at NHA, attend our meetings - regional and national - and if you are not a member, join us. NHA, our expertise and programs will prove to be invaluable.