Corps to rehabilitate Tennessee’s 135-MW Center Hill

The Corps of Engineers is laying the groundwork for major rehabilitation of all power generating equipment at its 135-MW Center Hill hydroelectric project on Caney Fork in Tennessee. Center Hill is one of nine regional plants the Corps plans to modernize.

Center Hill’s rehabilitation program calls for total repair and modernization of all power generating equipment and peripheral systems, including three new turbine runners and governors, stators and exciters for the generators, and power and control equipment. The switchyard also is to be modernized.

Although studies indicate the rehabilitation would cost $45 million to $50 million and take five to six years to complete, it is not formally scheduled due to funding restrictions. While the Corps continues to seek federal appropriations, it plans, in the meantime, to break out relatively small work packages, such as modernization of an overhead crane. The agency said that should help keep hydro production reliable and cost-effective to its wholesale power customers.

Advanced Automation refurbishes Center Hill, Wolf Creek cranes

Because the existing Center Hill crane is outdated and beginning to show signs of imminent failure due to normal wear and tear, the Corps broke out its modernization as a maintenance package to be funded by power customers.

The Corps said the crane’s control systems are becoming unreliable and must be replaced. Motors, winches, drums, and gearboxes are worn to the point that they are becoming unsafe to operate. The normal design life for the equipment is 35 to 40 years.

Advanced Automation Technologies was named to rehabilitate 250-ton overhead cranes inside both the Center Hill and 270-MW Wolf Creek powerhouses. AAT finished work at Wolf Creek in April, and then mobilized crew and equipment to work on the Center Hill crane. That work is to be completed in September or October.

The work is being performed under an agreement between the Corps’ Nashville District and its power customers to fund some maintenance activities at the two projects. Power customers are permitted to contribute non-federal funds to the Corps for hydropower repair and modernization.

The newly modernized Center Hill crane is to be used for subsequent turbine and generator work at the project.

Corps district to modernize nine plants

Similar opportunities could arise to allow the Corps to accomplish other critical work items to support the rehabilitation at Center Hill and at other hydro projects in the Nashville District, the Corps’ Jerry Brown said.

Brown, project manager for the district’s Hydropower Modernization Program, said a 30-year plan calls for modernizing all nine district hydropower plants, based on the age of the equipment and the urgency of the need. Currently, the Corps is partnering with customers to identify and accomplish several critical repair and replacement projects throughout the Cumberland River hydro system.

So far, customers have provided funds to rewind Generator 6 at Wolf Creek and to install new air coolers for Wolf Creek Generators 4 and 6. Customers also funded work on an air cooler for Center Hill Generator 2 and a crane at 100-MW Old Hickory, Brown said.

He said Center Hill, which went on line in 1950, and Wolf Creek, which went on line in 1952, are among the oldest of the nine plants. (HNN 6/19/06) Only 54-MW Dale Hollow is older, entering service in 1948. Brown identified the other plants to be modernized as 130-MW Barkley, 36-MW Cheatham, 100-MW Cordell Hull, 28-MW J. Percy Priest, and 61-MW Laurel.

For information, contact Brown at the Corps’ Nashville District Office, P.O. Box 1070, Nashville, TN 37202-1070; (1) 615-736-2349; E-mail:

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