Voith Hydro Overhaul at Bonneville Dam Improves Fish Protection and Creates Jobs for the Pacific Northwest

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers celebrates completion of adding the $140 million overhaul to the legacy of Bonneville First Powerhouse

Jul 26, 2010, 12:39 ET from Voith Hydro

PORTLAND, Ore., July 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Voith Hydro's first-of-its-kind patented fish friendly hydropower turbines are giving new life to the Bonneville Dam, after more than 70 years of providing clean, renewable energy to the Pacific Northwest.

The Bonneville First Powerhouse, which has been harnessing hydropower from the Columbia River since the late 1930s, underwent a $140 million upgrade to its turbines. The project, which started in 1993, was just celebrated in a public ceremony last week.

"Overall we are able to get about 15 percent more electricity out of this powerhouse when running at full capacity," said Scott Clemans with the Army Corps of Engineers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the Bonneville Dam, hired Voith Hydro to install its patented fish friendly Kaplan turbine, a design that minimizes the number of surfaces for potential fish injury. These state-of-the-art turbines have shown an increase in migratory fish survivability. In fact, the survivability of juvenile fish passage at Bonneville is now over 95 percent, said Mark Garner, President and CEO of Voith Hydro York, which manufactures the turbines on its major production site in York, Pa.

As turbines age, Garner said it's crucial to replace existing equipment with modern, more eco-friendly models.

"Currently, America gets 7 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric power, and this could increase to 11 percent by simply retrofitting existing hydropower plants," Garner said at Tuesday's event. "Given this enormous potential, hydropower will undoubtedly be a cornerstone of America's clean energy future."

Garner also spoke of the overall potential of hydropower as a renewable energy source, highlighting its enormous future potential as a vital part of the U.S. energy production.

"There are nearly 80,000 dams in the United States and just 3 percent are used to produce electricity, giving us the potential to generate an additional 60,000 megawatts to our nation's electric grid over the next 15 years and add more than 700,000 U.S. jobs," Garner said.

The completed $140 million project allows the Bonneville First Powerhouse to provide stability to the power grid, and reliable, economical hydropower to the western United States for decades to come, not to mention addressing the environmental issues related to endangered and threatened fish species.

"With 10 new Voith Hydro Kaplan turbines installed, this will go a long way in protecting the wild salmon and other fish in the Columbia River," said Garner. "We're thrilled the legacy of the Bonneville Dam can continue for generations to come."

To learn about the Bonneville Lock and Dam, visit http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/b/home.asp.

About Voith Hydro-

Headquartered in York, Voith Hydro's U.S. operations are home to one of the world's largest dedicated hydro equipment manufacturing facilities. Even during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Voith Hydro has continued to invest and create new jobs. With more than 550 employees, a 27 percent increase over the past two years, Voith Hydro is still growing and keeping up with the demand for hydropower. The company hired 194 people in the last 24 months and is investing more than $15.3 million in building renovations, new equipment and upgrades to its existing equipment.

Voith Hydro is a Group Division of Voith and - with a workforce of currently almost 4,700 employees and an order intake of almost 1,3 billion Euros in the business year 2008/2009 – belongs to the world-wide leading companies for hydro power equipment.

Voith is a global leader in the paper, energy, mobility and service industries. Founded on Jan. 1, 1867, Voith employs 39,000 people, and has sales of EURO 5,1 billion. Operating from 280 locations worldwide, Voith is one of Europe's largest family-owned companies.

For more information, please contact:

Tylynn Gordon, Strategies 360


SOURCE Voith Hydro