Hydroelectric, New Projects, O&M, Renewables, Retrofits & Upgrades

Center Hill tests new units for 135-MW hydro project

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials determined that a Voith Hydro scale model turbine met or exceeded requirements for replacement hydropower turbines at 135-MW Center Hill Dam in Tennessee.

Representatives from the Corps’ Hydroelectric Design Center and its Nashville District visited Voith labs to witness scale model testing that the Corps said was “completely successful” and will keep rehabilitation of the Center Hill project on track.

The Nashville District awarded a $47.2 million contract to Voith in June to refurbish Units 1, 2 and 3 in the Center Hill powerhouse, which began operation in 1950 and 1951.

“The goal is to verify you are not going to have any issues with these units and they generally last for many years … 40, 50, 60 years. So it’s important that you get high efficiency,” said Hydroelectric Design Center Mechanical Engineer Ryan Sollars said. “We witnessed checks through the entire operating range and found that Voith Hydro has exceeded the contract requirements.”

The new turbines will feature openings in the edges of the turbine blades to introduce air into the water as it flows through the generating unit.

Rehabilitation of the Center Hill units is the start of a 20-year process to rehabilitate all 28 turbine-generators at hydroelectric plants in the Nashville District. A memorandum of agreement between the Corps and the Southeastern Power Administration and power customers provided a funding stream for the units’ rehabilitation. Over the life of the program, SEPA is expected to direct more than $1.2 billion into the hydro equipment rehabilitation.

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