Potsdam hydroelectric project has rehabilitation and new construction goals

According to the Federal Register, potential power is presently unutilized at the 800-kW East powerhouse and proposed 700-kW West powerhouse for the Potsdam hydroelectric project on the Raquette River in Lancaster County, New York. The proposed West powerhouse received a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exemption from licensing in 1981.

Local officials said funding for the project would come from local taxes and loans the village secures, with the hope that revenue from selling power would repay lenders.

The village of Potsdam would need a total of about US$5 million to repair the East powerhouse that has been idle for the past several years and complete new construction at the West powerhouse. Completing both powerhouses would bring the Potsdam hydroelectric project capacity to 1.5 MW.

Dams and civil structures
The project has East and West dams, which are separated by Fall Island, and a 300-acre reservoir that has 750 acre-feet of storage.

The East Dam is a 165-foot-long by 7-foot-high concrete and masonry dam with an existing spillway at elevation 405 feet meters sea level (msl). The West Dam is 130 feet in length by 6 feet in height with an existing spillway at elevation 404.8 feet msl.

East powerhouse rehabilitation
Published reports indicate Hydro Consulting & Maintenance Services Inc. estimates rehabilitation and upgrade service to the 800-kW East powerhouse is about US$1.2 million.

If the village approves funding, work on Units No. 1 and 2 would include the following amounts:

  • Dewatering — $16,000
  • Generator shaft and runner repair — $24,000
  • Generator cleaning, new bearings and seals, inspection and testing — $35,000
  • Gearbox overhaul — $65,000
  • Turbine runner hub overhaul — $200,000
  • Turbine new bearing shell — $28,000
  • Component reassembly and alignment — $74,000
  • Roller gate inspection and wheel rebushing — $8,000

Proposed West powerhouse
The cost estimate for the proposed 700-kW West powerhouse, originally scheduled for commission in 2008, is about $3.5 million.

The facility would consist of a 30-foot-long penstock to convey water to a new powerhouse that would have one turbine-generator located downstream of the West Dam; a tailrace approximately 100 feet in length; a new 13.2-kV transmission line approximately 200 feet in length; and appurtenant facilities.

Although construction has begun, due to several product and service supplier issues, the West powerhouse has yet to be completed.

The estimated average annual energy produced by the entire project would be 2.3 GWh, operating under a net 9.5-foot hydraulic head.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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