Noxon Rapids Dam upgrades set to finish by next spring   

Tags: Avista Utilities, Electricity, Hydro power, Infrastructure upgrades, Renewable Energy, Clark Fork

Post by Brandi Smith

Noxon turbine runner and shaft.
This is a picture of the upgraded turbine runner and shaft
prior to installation. The turbine runner (water wheel) is 18
feet in diameter and weighs 130,000 pounds.
Generator rotor.
This picture shows the generator rotor being lowered into unit
3. It is 34 feet in diameter and weighs 650,000 pounds.
Project management is like juggling three balls at once - time, cost, and quality. The four-year, $45 million project to upgrade four generating units at Noxon Rapids Dam, Avista’s largest hydro facility, started in July of 2008. The improvements include upgrading the generator, installing higher capacity transformers and replacing the original turbine runners in all four units.

Sounds simple enough right? Well not so much.

Unfortunately, our local hardware stores don’t carry parts for turbine runners and generator rotors, so as you can imagine, this is no small deal. In fact, many of the parts that need to be replaced or refurbished have to be ordered a year in advance and are shipped from all over North America.

Each turbine runner weighs 130,000 pounds and the generator rotor weighs 650,000 pounds which combined is the equivalent of 47 elephants. Dealing with such significant weights and sizes makes the project more complex. Additionally, all of these upgrades are taking place in the midst of routine dam operations and maintenance. Talk about a juggling act.

To date, the Noxon team has finished upgrading two units and is nearly finished with the third, which will start seeing action this spring. The crew will begin work on the final unit this summer to complete the project by April of next year.

When finished, the improved turbine runners will generate more power using the same amount of water. Pretty cool, right? Approximately 30 megawatts will be added to the plant’s current maximum capacity (556.6 MW) and the incremental energy generated will meet some of the renewable energy portfolio standards as well. It’s a win-win.
The Noxon Rapids Dam is located on the Clark Fork River in Montana and provides Avista customers in Washington and Idaho with clean, renewable hydroelectric power.

Watch this video from 2009 of Noxon’s Unit 3 being removed from the bowels of the dam. Avista Blog: Noxon Rapids Dam upgrades underway, massive Unit 3 turbine removed.
 
Posted by  System Account  on  3/2/2011
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