HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (April 23, 2015) – Some of the country’s most powerful people visited Old Hickory Power Plant today as participants in a Federal Utility Partnership Working Group tour.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District hosted 22 members of the group, which requested to visit a hydropower facility during meetings held in Nashville organized by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Jamie James, program manager, Hydropower Rehabilitation Program manager, and Ryan Frye, Hydropower maintenance engineer, provided the group with information and answered questions about the district’s hydropower mission and 20-year, $1.2 billion program to rehabilitate 28 hydropower units during a 15-minute bus ride to the dam.
The participants learned that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District produces about $40 million annual revenue by converting water’s energy into 3.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 28 generators at its nine Hydropower Plants in the Cumberland River Basin. In addition, they found out that the district’s hydropower plants have exceeded their typical design life of 35-40 years, having been in service on average more than 50 years, and the risk of component failure increases with time.
James shared that in 2011 the district joined forces with the Department of Energy, Southeastern Power Administration and their preference customers in signing a memorandum of agreement that funds rehabilitation, non-routine maintenance and modernization of the district’s hydropower units.
The group listened and asked good questions, said James. “It is good to see their concern for the dam’s operation, equipment improvements and how we maintain it,” he added.
Steven Crawford and Nicholas Pilcher, hydropower trainees at the Old Hickory Power Plant, then provided the group with a safety briefing and introduction of maintenance tools and gear used at the power plant. Crawford also described the day-to-day power plant operations and the function of four large General Electric generators used for hydro generation.
Crawford and Pilcher split the group in half and led them into the power plant. They explained the generator’s functions and the group witnessed the operation of the turbine shaft and other major components, and the large rotator assembly.
L. Daryl Williams, TVA Industrial Services manager, said the tour is a great experience for attendees to look closely at the equipment used during operations and to have an opportunity to ask questions.
“This is an excellent and well kept facility,” said Williams. “We can relate to how it is used because it was built or has the same vintage as many Tennessee Valley Authority dams in which we are familiar with.”
“This facility is larger than I expected and it is very clean,” said Kazi Mamun, an executive with the Eaton Corporation. “It looks great for its age and the Corps has taken very good care of it.”
Mamun recognized several aging Eaton Corporation pieces of equipment inside the dam near the generator doors on the tour throughout the dam.
“It’s time for an upgrade,” said Mamun.
Williams said it was good for the group to see the power plant, and get a feel for needed improvements that could eventually qualify for upgrade funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“All hydro generated dams need upgrades and repairs at some point in time,” said Williams.
Williams also explained that the FUPWG meets to discuss and maintain partnerships and facilitates communications among Federal agencies, utilities, and energy service companies that help with funding and solving energy problems. One of the group’s missions is to help develop strategies that implement cost-effective energy efficiency and water conservation projects through utility incentive programs that help federal sites,” he added.
After a tour of the power plant, Crawford guided the group across the lock and dam structure, and the group watched the hydropower units and sluice gates churn large amounts of water. He even provided a short presentation on the importance of environmental stewardship and natural resource management at the district’s lake projects.
“I think this is a really cool facility,” said David McAndrew, Federal Energy Program lead. He said he is very appreciative that the group was given the opportunity to take a look at the inside of the generator up close and observe the need to upgrade many pieces of equipment.
“This tour was great,” he added. “It brings to life the things we talk about at our conferences, and brings motivation to the other agencies looking to work with us.”
“This was an extremely good visit for the Nashville District and provided the group with some insight on how we operate here at the Old Hickory dam,” said Crawford. “I think they left with a good amount of knowledge and through their many questions, responses and comments, showed us they were happy.”
Pilcher added that the powerhouse operators set up a great segue to their next lecture in electricity when they spoke about the importance of transformers in stepping electricity up or down.
“We enjoy it when groups want to tour our facilities and take interest in our dams,” said Crawford. “Our powerhouse is always busy with projects and we enjoy and encourage school groups, clubs and other interests groups to schedule a tour with us.”
The exchange was a valuable continuation of the agencies’ initiative to share information about infrastructure development and maintenance, according to Williams.
“This group was particularly interested in how the partnership works between the Tennessee Valley Authority, which owns many hydropower plants and navigation locks on the Tennessee River, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which operates and maintains the navigation locks,” said Williams.
The Old Hickory dam visit was coordinated through TVA and the DOE to share knowledge and technology for conference attendees.
For more information about Old Hickory Lock and Dam Tours or to schedule a group tour please contact the Old Hickory Lake Resource Manager’s Office at (615) 822-4846.
For more news, updates and information please follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps. Old Hickory Lake is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/oldhickorylake. The Nashville District is also on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.