The Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Facility in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest will receive up to $800,000 in federal stimulus money to make upgrades and become more efficient, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The money is part of $5.47 million in funding for upgrades to similar facilities across Washington, and is expected to spark construction at the Packwood Lake facility by August 2010.
The money will allow the facility’s owner, Energy Northwest, to purchase and install a Washington-made Pelton wheel turbine that will allow the facility to increase its generating capacity by as much as 6 percent, according to a release from U.S. Congressman Brian Baird.
The changes will increase the facility’s production capacity by 5,800 megawatt-hours each year.
Energy Northwest will be required to match each federal dollar spent on the project.
“This project will create jobs, and increase our supply of clean, renewable energy to help meet the needs of our growing population,” Baird said in a statement. “This upgrade has been in the works for some time, but because of the Recovery Act, we will be able to get the project to construction faster, which will stimulate our local economy, while improving our infrastructure for future generations at the same time.”
Nationwide, as much as $30 million is being allocated for hydropower upgrades by the Department of Energy and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
According to the DOE, the selected projects will increase generation by an estimated 187,000 megawatts a year, or enough to meet the annual electric usage of more than 12,000 homes.
The Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Facility was built in 1964. It’s located about 20 miles south of Mount Rainier.
Power plant structures at the lake are limited to a small diversion and intake structure a short distance downstream from the outlet of Packwood Lake, according to Energy Northwest.
A five-mile underground pipeline carries the water down the mountain to the powerhouse near the town of Packwood.
The 1,800-foot drop in elevation generates significant pressure at the turbine.
The turbine generator is capable of generating up to 27.5 megawatts of electricity, according to Energy Northwest.
Michael Wagar, The Chronicle – http://www.chronline.com/articles/2009/11/05/news/doc4af31a1dd4e8f547688386.txt