Chelan PUD, GE team up for modernization of 624-MW Rock Island hydroelectric

Rock Island hydro

Chelan PUD and GE Renewable Energy have reached an agreement to modernize Powerhouse II at the 624-MW Rock Island hydroelectric project.

The 42-year-old turbines will be rebuilt one by one starting in 2022, with expected completion of all eight in 2030. The cost is estimated at $210 million. The project is on the Columbia River in Washington State, U.S.

To ensure long-term value and quality, GE and Chelan PUD negotiated an extended correction period, significantly exceeding the standard two-year warranty for hydroelectric turbines.

“We are appreciative that GE has responded to our plea for the hydropower industry to develop longer-term commitments and quality control,” said Steve Wright, general manager at Chelan PUD. “This innovative and important agreement represents our commitment to our customer-owners to strive for best value over the long run. I am grateful to GE and Chelan PUD staff for their creativity and tenacity.”

As part of the Powerhouse II rehabilitation, Chelan PUD and GE are innovating a more environmentally friendly turbine design. Turbines like the ones in Powerhouse II are traditionally lubricated with oil and safeguarded with trunnion seals. The new design allows the turbines to be filled with oil, water or air, which gives Chelan PUD the flexibility to use new technologies without compromising the mechanical integrity of the turbine.

“We want to thank Chelan PUD for the collaborative approach their team has promoted in the past two years by working in full transparency, building trust, and defining a common approach towards shared goals,” said Pierre Marx, general manager GE Hydro Solutions, North America. “As a result, we’ve been able to develop a customized solution that meets the needs of Chelan PUD, a project with less risks, more focus on the outcomes, and a path for a successful execution shared by both parties.”

Chelan PUD commissioners approved the purchase of several specialized parts that require a long lead time to manufacture, including a generator stator, runner hub and wicket gates, from GE Renewable Energy. The board also approved the extended correction period agreement.

Rock Island Dam is the second largest of three hydroelectric sites operated by Chelan County PUD.

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