GE Renewable Energy signed a refurbishment contract with the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) to modernise the Don Pedro hydropower plant’s powerhouse in California, jointly owned by TID and Modesto Irrigation District (MID). Upon the refurbishment project’s completion, the facility’s maximum capacity will increase from 203 MW to approximately 268 MW. This energy meets the energy needed to power approximately 150,000 homes. The new units will increase the power plant’s efficiency and operating range and have a design life of 50 years.  

The scope of the project includes the replacement of 4 turbines and 3 generators and the repair of one additional generator. The main objective of the refurbishment is to maintain the overall plant equipment reliability for another five decades to come. In addition, replacing the units will increase their efficiency and performance in a way that responds to the growing needs of TID and MID customers. This upgrade will also help the Districts accomplish long-term clean energy goals, and capture more flexible, fast-ramping capacity for grid support.

“The Don Pedro hydropower plant is critical to TID and MID, and we look forward to 50 more years of reliable operation. The modernisation effort will enhance the efficiency and performance of the plant, and enable continued support of our grids and customers,” said Brad Koehn, TID’s Chief Operating Officer.

President and CEO of GE Renewable Energy’s Hydropower business, Pascal Radue, said, “With the increase of renewable energy in California, grid stability is and will be critical, and the installed hydropower fleet can be retrofitted to play a significant role. Helping our customers address the increased demands for flexibility is vital in today’s energy markets. We are very excited about this new partnership with TID and MID that enables us to clearly understand their needs and work side by side to provide a customised solution and execution plan that best meets their needs.”

Beyond providing electricity to the region, the Don Pedro power plant has another important mission. The original dam was built in 1923, with a storage capacity of only 289,000 acre-feet; the original dam held virtually enough water to accommodate farmers’ irrigation needs for a single growing season. Recognising the need for increased storage to weather multiple dry year periods, the new Don Pedro Project, including the current dam and powerhouse, was built, creating a 2,030,000 acre-feet reservoir, not only providing for irrigation needs but also creating opportunities for recreation, flood control, and increased generation.

Image source: Courtesy of GE Renewable Energy

Read more Hydroelectric news here