PPL Maine completes renovation of 2.78-MW Orono

PPL Maine has completed a $5.2 million project to renovate and recommission its 2.78-MW Orono hydroelectric project, which sat idle since a 1996 penstock failure.

PPL started work to renovate and restart Orono in May 2008, and returned the project to service the first week of March, spokesman George Lewis said. It did the work as part of an expansion of generation provided by a 2004 salmon restoration agreement between PPL and Penobscot River Restoration Trust. (HNN 8/25/08)

The renovation included construction of a single 20-foot-wide, 12-foot-tall concrete penstock to replace three 10-foot-diameter woodstave penstocks, and refurbishment of four turbine-generators. Bancroft Contracting of South Paris, Maine, built the new penstock, while AC Electric of Bangor, Maine, handled generator rewind work and Eaton Corp. supplied and installed new switchgear and controls.

The new penstock reduces head losses by a foot while the generator work is expected to increase capacity 20 percent. The plant’s original generating capacity was 2.332 MW.

The work cost about $500,000 more than the original budget, in part due to change orders and a series of delays, Dick Fennelly, manager of generating assets, said. The newly commissioned Orono project is expected to generate 20,000 MWh annually.

�The repowering of the Orono hydroelectric plant is a plus for the environment and the region’s energy needs,� Dennis Murphy, vice president and chief operating officer of PPL’s Eastern Fossil and Hydro Generation group, said. �This project symbolizes PPL’s commitment to supporting renewable energy and being a responsible corporate citizen in Maine.�

Orono is PPL’s second expansion of hydropower generation under the agreement with the non-profit trust. In 2006, the company increased output of its 3.44-MW Medway (No. 2666), 13-MW West Enfield (No. 2600), and 1.95-MW Stillwater (No. 2712) projects by a total of 10,000 MWh. That work involved adding flashboards to the three dams.

Under the agreement, PPL is selling three of its Penobscot River hydropower projects to the trust. The trust said it raised $25 million to remove 8-MW Veazie (No. 2403) and 8-MW Great Works (No. 2312) dams and bypass 2-MW Howland (No. 2721) to open hundreds of miles of the river system to Atlantic salmon and other fish. The sale is pending approval by federal and state agencies.

PPL Maine’s parent company, PPL Corp., Allentown, Pa., purchased Orono from Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. in 1999 as part of a package of generation and other assets.

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