Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Idaho Falls Power removes turbines from Old Lower Plant for testing

The city of Idaho Falls' Old Lower Power Plant, with its south wall removed. The venerable turbines are being tested for possible rewinding and refurbishment.
This past week, crews from Idaho Falls Power have torn out the south wall of the city's Lower Power Plant and removed the generators to have them tested. If they can be rewound or refurbished, the city-owned utility would like to keep the site for supplemental power generation.

The plant dates back to 1900, and was Idaho Falls' first big public power generation project. The first water-powered generation came from a canal that produced only enough juice to energize the city's street lights. Between 1900 and 1928, three power plants were constructed in Idaho Falls: the Old Lower Plant in 1900, City Plant in 1912 and the Upper Plant in 1928. The Lower Plant was aggressively updated in 1937.

The plants at the original Upper and City sites were almost completely destroyed by the Teton Dam collapse and flood in 1976. The Old Lower Plant facility received little to no damage. A new bulb turbine facility was constructed adjacent to the Old Lower Plant facility in 1978, and commercial production began at that plant in April 1982. Bulb turbines were also installed at the City and Upper Plants and went commercial in July and September 1982, respectively.

Since then, the Old Lower Plant units have typically been run four to eight weeks a year, to augment power production during peak runoff, when flows exceed the capacity of the city's bulb turbines.

Here is a breakdown of the Idaho Falls Power's generation capacity:

Two Old  Lower Plants     1.5 megawatts each
Three Bulb Turbines          8.3 megawatts each
Gem State Dam                  23.5 megawatts
TOTAL                              51.5 megawatts