The new Hydropower Research Institute is one step closer to creation, after commissioners with Chelan County Public Utility District in Washington State approved a bridging agreement.
This agreement sets in motion the formation of the institute, appointing directors and filing Article of Incorporation. This new, nonprofit research institute would help dam operators around the world improve operations and support a hydropower technology hub in the Wenatchee Valley.
Commissioners have approved US$1.05 million in public power benefit funding for hydropower research and allocated an initial $500,000 of those funds earlier this year to launch the new institute.
Added funding could come in the form of memberships, subscriptions and the ability to apply for grants. Local agriculture, education and technology groups also support the institute, Chelan PUD says.
The institute’s initial focus will be to collect and compile operating data from hydroelectric generators and coordinate analysis and research on operations with the potential to reduce costs and increase revenues by reducing forced outages, as well as develop new sensors and monitors to improve predictive capabilities.
“There is a tremendous amount of interest in the industry, and it is really exciting that Chelan County will be a place where hydro project owners, researchers, students, manufacturers and suppliers can come together to move the industry forward in the digital transformation,” said Kirk Hudson, generation and transmission manager director for Chelan PUD.
A board of directors will oversee the institute, and Chelan PUD General Manager Steve Wright will appoint Chelan PUD’s representatives to that board.
Chelan PUD owns three hydropower projects: Rocky Reach, Rock Island and Lake Chelan.