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Hydropower Optimization increases energy production at Corps plants

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Sept. 18, 2015
Corps employees and members of Team Cumberland pose with Old Hickory Dam and Power Plant in the background.  Hendersonville, Tenn., Sept. 15, 2015.  Team Cumberland toured the Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)

Corps employees and members of Team Cumberland pose with Old Hickory Dam and Power Plant in the background. Hendersonville, Tenn., Sept. 15, 2015. Team Cumberland toured the Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)

Amber Cole (Right), electrical engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District's Electronic Service Section, answers technical questions with the members of Team Cumberland that were touring the Old Hickory Dam Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., Sept. 15, 2015. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)

Amber Cole (Right), electrical engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District's Electronic Service Section, answers technical questions with the members of Team Cumberland that were touring the Old Hickory Dam Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., Sept. 15, 2015. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)

Jake Kennedy (Right), Old Hickory Dam Power Plant superintendent, addresses current technical issues with members of Team Cumberland that were touring the Old Hickory Dam Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., Sept. 15, 2015. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)

Jake Kennedy (Right), Old Hickory Dam Power Plant superintendent, addresses current technical issues with members of Team Cumberland that were touring the Old Hickory Dam Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., Sept. 15, 2015. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)

Aging hydroelectric generating units operated by the District at Dams in Kentucky and Tennessee have gone well beyond their typical design life of 35-40 years and are in much need of rehabilitation.  Engineers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District are focused on a plan to revitalize and rehabilitate the units in the next 20 years.  (USACE photo by Mark Rankin)

Aging hydroelectric generating units operated by the District at Dams in Kentucky and Tennessee have gone well beyond their typical design life of 35-40 years and are in much need of rehabilitation. Engineers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District are focused on a plan to revitalize and rehabilitate the units in the next 20 years. (USACE photo by Mark Rankin)

Will Garner, journeyman power plant operator at the Old Hickory Dam Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., leads Team Cumberland on a tour of the power plant Sept. 15, 2015. The plant on the Cumberland River is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)

Will Garner, journeyman power plant operator at the Old Hickory Dam Power Plant in Hendersonville, Tenn., leads Team Cumberland on a tour of the power plant Sept. 15, 2015. The plant on the Cumberland River is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 18, 2015) - Aging hydroelectric generating units operated by the district at Dams in Kentucky and Tennessee have gone well beyond their typical design life of 35-40 years and are in much need of rehabilitation.  Engineers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District are focused on a plan to revitalize and rehabilitate the units in the next 20 years.

Hydropower Optimization is part of a six-year plan and produces lasting benefits for decades to come.  

“Hydropower Optimization is extremely important to us because it allows us to maximize the amount of energy produced for a given amount of water discharged by operating individual units and power plants at optimal efficiencies and modernize our current units,” said Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, Nashville District commander.

This week, Murphy and a team of engineers and managers from the District met with Team Cumberland, representatives from the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Cumberland River System Power preference customers, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Southeastern Power Administration.  All, partners in efforts to promote hydropower in the Cumberland River System.

Jamie James, program manager, Customer Funded Section 212 Hydropower Rehabilitation Program, Nashville District explained that Optimization includes: equipment upgrades and controls system changes that will increase energy production efficiency by 2-5 percent.

“Optimization makes business sense,” said Murphy.  “The work will begin to produce benefits as soon as work at the first plant is complete, and the investment will be returned within eight years of beginning work.  “Financial benefits through increased generating efficiency will continue to accrue well into the future,” Murphy added.

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.

According to James, a Memorandum of Agreement with the SEPA and power customers provides a funding stream to rehabilitate 28 hydroelectric generating units operated by the District over the next 20 years.  The Water Resources Development Act of 2000, Section 212, authorized the Corps to accept and expend a portion of the revenue from power sales 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.

“It is very good that we have these strategic partners as we enter into agreements and relationships that bring us closer to understand how we need each other,” said Kamau B.A. Sadiki, National Hydropower Business Line manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters. 

Sadiki, said, it is wise to use good business practices to keep costs down and use the best technology available.

“Optimization is one example of Corps’ efforts to ensure that this green power remains available, reliable and affordable,” said James.

The Nashville District hosted 24 members of Team Cumberland, which requested to visit the Old Hickory Dam during its two-day fourth quarter meetings held in Nashville and organized by SEPA.

“I enjoyed the tour and it was a great experience for us to see the facility, equipment and what needs rehabbed,” said Marlene Parsley, director of Resources and Forecasting, Big Rivers Electric Corporation.

Sadiki said the District must commit remaining unallocated Memorandum of Agreement funds to system optimization subprojects and aggressively pursue Fiscal Year 2017 Federal appropriations to target specific subprojects.

“We have a beautiful Hydropower Rehabilitation Program plan to modernize and increase the reliability of these projects for the future, for the long term,” said Sadiki.  “I see this as being very, very positive and look forward to providing services to our stakeholders and customers.”

(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.)