U.S. awards $80 million runner contract for 2,457-MW Chief Joseph

The Corps of Engineers has awarded an $80.14 million contract to Alstom Hydro U.S. Inc. to manufacture replacement runners for 10 of the 16 original turbines at 2,457.3-MW Chief Joseph Dam, on the Columbia River in north central Washington.

The Corps’ Seattle District said July 2 that Alstom, of Littleton, Colo., is to supply replacement runners and refurbish vertical Francis-type turbines for 10 original units in the total 27-unit project. (HNN 10/27/06) The units, 5-14, originally were supplied by Newport News Ship Building and Dry Dock Co.

Alstom is to design, model test, manufacture, deliver, install, commission, and test a replacement runner and appurtenances for a Newport News unit. After prototype testing, the company is to fabricate and deliver replacement runners and appurtenances for the remaining nine Newport News units.

While the contract covers only the ten Newport News units, the Corps could exercise an option to replace runners and refurbish wetted surfaces for Chief Joseph’s remaining six original units, Units 1-4, 15, and 16, which were built by S. Morgan Smith Co.

Only two units will be available for runner replacement at the same time. Under one scenario, the first new runner would be installed in 2008 and work on all 16 units would be completed in 2014.

The work is expected to increase Chief Joseph’s overall efficiency of generation, allowing the plant to produce its installed nameplate capacity and increase annual production.

The Corps said several significant changes have affected performance of the original project since it was completed in 1958. Those include deterioration of the runners in 50 years of use, rewinding of the generators in the 1980s, a pool raise, and the addition of Units 17-27 to the powerhouse between 1977 and 1979. Under normal operating conditions, Chief Joseph cannot reach its nameplate capacity of 2,614 MW, the Corps said.

Units 17-27, manufactured by Hitachi, are not involved in the replacement program as they are relatively new, and are designed to operate efficiently under current project conditions.

Chief Joseph is the Corps’ largest hydropower project and the second largest hydro project in the U.S.; only the Bureau of Reclamation’s 6,809-MW Grand Coulee is bigger. Bonneville Power Administration markets Chief Joseph’s power as part of the Federal Columbia River Power System.

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