NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 24, 2014) – Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commander and 53rd chief of engineers, energized more than 3,000 people from over 50 countries during the keynote session of the world’s largest hydro event at Music City Center July 22.
The general, who oversees the nation’s civil works infrastructure and leads more than 33,000 civilian employees and 700 military personnel conducting engineering operations in 130 countries, highlighted the need for hydro experts to come together at events like HydroVision International to focus on the challenges of global hydropower.
Bostick noted that the Corps of Engineers stands ready to partner with hydropower industries and professionals to collectively find solutions to some of the nation’s toughest challenges of the future.
“It’s an opportunity for us to come together because it (hydropower) is a team sport, and we’re going to accomplish the success of these challenges through innovative ideas, creative ideas, techniques and examples from all throughout the country,” Bostick said.
Much of the nation’s hydropower infrastructure was created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt under the “New Deal,” which is aging. The general said the nation needs to invest more to maintain the nation’s infrastructure, which includes the Corps’ 75 dams and 350 hydropower units that generate a total of 21,000 megawatts.
The Corps of Engineers produces 25 percent of the nation’s hydropower, which is three percent of the nation’s total electrical capacity. The Corps is also the fifth largest electric supplier in the country and one of the largest in the world.
“We produce annually 70 billion kilowatt hours of green renewable energy, enough to power 30 cities the size of Nashville. USACE hydropower generates approximately five to six billion dollars each year in gross revenues,” Bostick said.
The general stressed that the Corps is finding innovative ways of funding $3.4 billion that is needed to rehabilitate its hydropower facilities that have aged beyond their design life. Working with the nation’s power administrations, the Corps has already received more than $700 million since 2000 for major hydro rehab projects, he said.
Bostick said the Corps is also heavily invested in “STEM” training, which educates students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, at the elementary school level and upward.
“We know that STEM occupations only represent about five percent of all jobs. But we also know that in the United States, in 2018, we’re going to need one million more graduates than we have coming out of college today,” Bostick said. “We know that our future is going to be in those that we train and our future is going to be in the youngsters that decide that they want a career in engineering, science and math.”
Col. Steven Roemhildt, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division commander, and Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander, also addressed the attendees about how the Corps manages water resources regionally and locally in Tennessee.
Roemhildt said the nation faces daunting challenges with its aging infrastructure, and added that there is no one person, one entity, or one organization that can navigate through these issues alone.
“It takes a team of teams, and that’s why I’m happy to be here today as part of the hydropower international conference – collaborating and partnering and furthering the practice of the hydropower community of practice.”
Hudson, who manages nine hydropower plants on the Cumberland River and its tributaries as well as the water resources development and navigable waterways operations for the Cumberland and Tennessee River basins, spoke about the critical role the Nashville District plays in its seven-state footprint.
The district engineer said the Corps operates 10 multipurpose dams along the Cumberland River that provide flood risk reduction, navigation through four locks, and green energy from nine hydropower plants, with a total rated capacity of 941 megawatts.
“We have an operational availability rate in excess of 90 percent, and that’s largely due to the exceptional workforce that we have and the care and dedication that they have in the facilities,” Hudson said.
Hudson said the Nashville District is in the beginning stages of a long-term rehab program of the district’s nine hydropower plants.
The district signed a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy, Southeastern Power Administration and their preference customers in 2011 that looks to direct more than $1.2 billion into the rehabilitation of the 28 hydropower generators in the Cumberland River basin. The Corps recently awarded a $47 million contract to Voith Hydro, Inc., to rehabilitate three hydropower units at the Center Hill Dam Powerhouse in Lancaster, Tenn.
“Over the course of the next 20 years we will rehab all nine facilities to include the replacement of the turbines and generators at all 28 units,” Hudson said. “We expect a minor increase in their capacity from their current listed capacity, but more importantly it will provide reliable energy here in the Tennessee-Kentucky area for the next 50 years.”
During the chief of engineers’ trip to Nashville, he also visited Center Hill Dam in Lancaster, Tenn., July 21. He toured the saddle dam and seepage rehabilitation project work platform, and received updates from Linda Adcock, project manager, and Bill DeBruyn, resident engineer. He also spent time in the power plant where he received briefings from Jamie James, project manager for the Nashville District’s hydropower rehabilitation program; Jeff Flowers, Mid Cumberland Power Project manager; and Jody Craig, Center Hill Power Project specialist.
Bostick also took time to recognize Park Ranger Sarah Peace, Senior Geotechnical Engineer Brad Long, Contract Administrator Chad Braun, and Andy Hartman, quality control and safety officer, all top performers with the Nashville District. He also recognized Ronald Gatlin, Jr., who served in Iraq for a year and stepped up to temporarily serve as the power plant superintendent.
At the culmination of the general’s visit he expressed his gratitude for the professionalism and pride on display at the Center Hill Power Plant.
“I appreciate what you do… not only for this district and for this dam, but also for the Corps of Engineers,” Bostick said.
(For more news, updates and information please follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps)