Control upgrades increase capacity of California projects

Efficiency upgrades to the 154-MW Jaybird and 82-MW Loon Lake hydroelectric powerhouses have increased generating capacity of the units by 15 percent, California’s Sacramento Municipal Utility District said.

Upgrades of two units at Jaybird and one unit at Loon Lake involved installing new controllers to regulate water flow to the six-needle Pelton turbines, SMUD said. The new controller starts the unit by opening two needles and adds the others as demand for power increases. The result is significant water savings for the same amount of power generation when the units are operating at power levels less than 20 MW.

Each controller cost about $300,000. SMUD estimated the new equipment would save the utility about $130,000 a year, according to a report presented at SMUD’s board of directors meeting in April.

The upgrade is part of a larger package of work on 10 units in seven powerhouses of SMUD’s 647.726-MW Upper American River project. (HNN 4/9/07) The last of the upgraded controls is scheduled for commissioning in early 2010.

Work includes refurbishment of digital and mechanical governors and turbine shutoff valve controls and supply of a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. Each governor and shutoff valve is being provided a programmable logic controller for control automation and data acquisition. The SCADA system is to interconnect each of the seven stations and the SMUD Hydro Headquarters in Pollock Pines, Calif.

The Upper American River project (No. 2101) is on Rubicon River, Silver Creek, and the South Fork of the American River near Placerville, Calif.

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