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Corps begins hydropower rehabilitation at Center Hill Dam

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Sept. 9, 2015
Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, and Bob Gallo, Voith Hydro chief executive officer, talk with technical experts from the Corps of Engineers and Voith Hydro about the disassembly of hydropower unit two during a visit to the Center Hill Dam Power House in Lancaster, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2015.

Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, and Bob Gallo, Voith Hydro chief executive officer, talk with technical experts from the Corps of Engineers and Voith Hydro about the disassembly of hydropower unit two during a visit to the Center Hill Dam Power House in Lancaster, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2015.

Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy (Left), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, and Bob Gallo (Center), Voith Hydro chief executive officer, chat with Martin Parker, Voith Hydro site manager, about the ongoing rehabilitation of hydropower unit two at the Center Hill Dam Power House in Lancaster, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2015.

Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy (Left), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, and Bob Gallo (Center), Voith Hydro chief executive officer, chat with Martin Parker, Voith Hydro site manager, about the ongoing rehabilitation of hydropower unit two at the Center Hill Dam Power House in Lancaster, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2015.

Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy (Left), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, and Bob Gallo, Voith Hydro chief executive officer, look at the turbine shaft of hydropower unit two at the Center Hill Dam Power House in Lancaster, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2015.

Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy (Left), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, and Bob Gallo, Voith Hydro chief executive officer, look at the turbine shaft of hydropower unit two at the Center Hill Dam Power House in Lancaster, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2015.

Jerry Lee (Left), mechanical engineer and project engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District's Center Hill Hydropower Rehabilitation Project, talks with Bob Gallo, Voith Hydro chief executive officer, during his visit to the power house in Lancaster, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2015.

Jerry Lee (Left), mechanical engineer and project engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District's Center Hill Hydropower Rehabilitation Project, talks with Bob Gallo, Voith Hydro chief executive officer, during his visit to the power house in Lancaster, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2015.

LANCASTER, Tenn. (Sept. 9, 2015) – Disassembly of hydropower unit two is about to get underway at Center Hill Dam, which is the first of 28 units in the Cumberland River Basin to be rehabilitated as a result of a Memorandum of Agreement with the Southeastern Power Administration and power customers signed in August 2011 that provided a funding stream for the work. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District awarded a $47.25 million contract to Voith Hydro in June 2014 to rehabilitate three Center Hill Dam hydropower units.  The contractor mobilized to the dam in July 2015 and is in the early stages of working on hydropower unit two.

Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, Nashville District commander, met with Bob Gallo, Voith Hydro’s chief executive officer, at the Center Hill Dam Power Plant Sept. 9 to get a first-hand look at the first unit to be completely rehabilitated as a result of the MOA.

Jeff Linkinhoker, Nashville District’s project manager, and Jerry Lee, mechanical engineer and project engineer for the Corps of Engineers, along with Martin Parker, site manager for Voith Hydro, briefed the two leaders about the disassembly process as they the moved about the generator, the shaft of the turbine, control gates and even below the penstock, which is the long pipe where water flows from the reservoir to the power generation unit.

Martin said the contractor has finished taking the alignment readings on unit two and they plan to begin disassembly in the coming weeks.

“What’s ahead is to take apart the inside of the unit, the generator, take out the bracket, rotor, turbine and shafts, taking it all the way down to the water, and then rebuild all of the embedded parts, and then reassembling with new components on the turbine,” Martin said.

Lee said the contractor has been working on its design for the turbine generator rehab since the contract was awarded and manufacturing parts such as the turbines and wiki gates.

“We’re at the beginning, the initial stages,” Lee said.  “The contractor has mobilized to the site and they are about to disassemble the unit.”

To Lee’s knowledge, the Corps of Engineers has never removed a turbine from one of its hydropower units, so this project is a rarity of sorts.  He said the new turbines will feature the ability to put oxygen into the water, which is a good thing for aquatic wildlife downstream on the Caney Fork River.

Martin added that the components have been operating for more than 60 years and although they are in pretty good condition, there are definite signs of wear and tear.

“But it is time to rebuild considering when they were built they were expecting to get 25 to 30 years life out of them, and they’ve gotten double that,” Martin said.

The rehabilitation of unit two is scheduled for completion in the August-September timeframe of 2016.  Unit one will then be rehabilitated followed by unit three. It will take three years to complete the project at Center Hill Dam.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2000, Section 212, authorized the Corps to accept and expend a portion of this revenue to perform rehab work on hydropower equipment. Under this provision of the law, funds that would normally be returned to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury are now available to maintain the hydropower generating equipment. Over the life of the program SEPA looks to direct more than $1.2 billion into the Cumberland River System Hydropower Rehabilitation.

The Nashville District operates nine multi-purpose projects in the Cumberland River Basin, which produce about 3.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Sales of this electricity yield about $40 million dollars each year in revenue for the U.S. Treasury.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)