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Carmen Smith Hydroelectric Project is Preparing For a Very LARGE Delivery

April 13, 2017

Photo of large hydroelectric turbine

Much of the major Carmen Smith powerhouse generating equipment has been in service since 1963, and is operating beyond its expected life span. In late 2016, EWEB submitted an updated relicensing application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for review, and while we expect that it will take the rest of 2017 and possibly part of 2018 for FERC to complete and issue the new license, some modernization work is moving forward.  

Staff recently completed the overhaul of the powerhouse gantry crane.  The gantry crane is necessary for moving large equipment into and out of the powerhouse. The weight of the major powerhouse equipment planned for replacement ranges from 40 tons up to 140 tons. The next big piece of work is replacing two failing turbine shut-off valves.  

The turbine shutoff valves at the Carmen Powerhouse stop water flow to the turbines, protecting the equipment from damage and allowing periodic inspection of, and repairs to, the turbines. Recent testing revealed that the existing 55-year-old valves leak at a rate of approximately 3,400 gallons per minute. Because of this, inspection of the turbines has not been possible for three years.  

The new replacement valves were forged in Italy and assembled in Switzerland. They will be shipping overseas soon and are expected to arrive on the project at the beginning of June. A plant outage is necessary to accommodate the valve replacement work. The intent is to dewater the power tunnel/penstock system and be ready to start demolition activities shortly after the valves arrive at Carmen.  

In addition to modernizing and replacing equipment at the Carmen Powerhouse and elsewhere throughout the hydroelectric generation project, we will make significant improvements to fish passage facilities and habitat, and upgrade Trail Bridge and Lakes End campgrounds. In order to complete the project safely, we closed public access to Trail Bridge and Lakes End campgrounds, the Trail Bridge Reservoir boat launch and Smith Reservoir. Read more about the five-year closures.  

The Carmen plant remains valuable as a carbon-free generation resource that can ramp up and down to meet customers' peak energy needs. In other words, Carmen operates when our community needs power the most and when buying that power on the wholesale market would be most expensive. We expect to invest approximately $100 million modernizing the project and making the habitat and recreation improvements.

Learn more about the Carmen Smith Hydroelectric Project