The turbine that was original to the unit has degraded in efficiency over its decades-long lifetime from 49 megawatts to 42 megawatts, so the Tennessee Valley Authority began a project to replace the unit July 29, and are looking to complete the project by the end of October.
In addition to installing a new turbine, staff have worked to install new rotating components, a new generator, new electrical power train components and new transformers along with new controls and instrumentation to run that equipment, according to senior project manager David Rowland and lead construction manager Frank Barber.
“It’s critical especially on a one-unit powerhouse that we have a reliable machine to pass the water and make the electricity and all the other functions that we provide with a multi-use hydro plant facility,” Rowland said.
“Every system that operates within this plant is being touched one way or another and modernized,” Public Information Officer Jim Hopson added.
The updated equipment will bump the efficiency up by 7 megawatts. Hopson explained that one megawatt can power about 580 homes at any given moment, so the extra seven megawatts could power anywhere from about 3,500 to 4,000 additional homes.
The overhaul will also include a 3 to 4 percent increase in efficiency, which Rowland and Barber said is a substantial bump and a benefit to power production and customers and could result in lower bills.
“The more efficient our hydro system is, the more needed power we can produce from hydro power each year, and that would factor into the fuel cost adjustment that is made periodically by TVA to establish (customer) rates,” Rowland said.
In other TVA updates:
• As for Boone Dam, everything appears to be on schedule as the team digs into year three of the seven-year project, Hopson said. He said berm construction should be completed in time to get started on the diaphragm wall construction this summer, which will fix the seepage issue.
• Water levels for all the other lakes in the TVA area are full just in time for Memorial Day weekend, the senior manager of the TVA’s River Management division reported.
• A five-year study on the area’s water use found that the Tennessee Valley River System is the most intensely used basin in the nation, with 10 billion gallons of water taken out of the basin each day, Civil Engineer Amanda Turk said.
Of those 10 billion gallons, 95 percent is returned, meaning that 440 million gallons of water are used each day. Turk also reported that the system provides drinking water for about 5.1 million people, but that number is projected to rise to 6.2 million people by 2040.
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