California utility awards contract for small hydropower plant equipment

Manufacturer ORENCO Hydropower has been selected to supply a 320 kW water-to-wire equipment package for the Lincoln Metering and Hydroelectric Station.

The micro hydropower plant, being developed by the Placer County Water Agency, will be installed at an existing metering station near Lincoln.

The US$745,000 order includes two vertical Francis turbines, induction generators, valves, switchgear and control systems. ORENCO said the turbines and generators are being sourced from Fuzhou Fang Yuan Machinery and Electricity of China, while the controls and switchgear will be supplied by Bat Electric of California.

“It is rewarding to be able to offer a bid that combines low cost and high output,” ORENCO vice chairman Mark Matousek said.

The hydroelectric components will utilize one of the metering station’s existing pressure-reducing valves, meaning the civil works required are “minimal”, according to ORENCO.

The plant demonstrates the economic benefits of in-conduit hydropower systems, the Palo Alto-based company said, with federal legislation enacted this past August making similar projects more possible.

“Previously, licensing cost and risk have been significant barriers to development of small hydro projects,” the company said. “This new legislation opens the door for further development, which helps provide additional renewable energy at lower cost.”

Energy generated by the Lincoln plant will be supplied to the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) grid.

ORENCO said it expects the plant to be in operation by the end of this year.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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