Improvement Project Blocks Record Year at Hydroelectric Plant
ST. CLOUD -- The St. Cloud Hydroelectric Plant was on pace to set a new output record in 2016. That is, until a $3,500,000 trip-gate project forced the plant to lower the water level.
Plant Manager Daryl Stang says it's bittersweet...
Obviously, we had a barge and a crane in the river. Last year would have been a record-breaking year flow-wise and production-wise. Because of the project, we had to draw the pool down a couple of times and run at a lower head pressure, meaning we produced less power during those times. It prevented us from having the record-breaking year we would have had.
The project is replacing the old manual trip-gates with new automated ones.
When the water flow is high in the spring, the gates would be tripped open and stay open until Stang could safely raise them manually.
The old system was a breakable link that operated under pressure. Once the pressure increased and the links broke, the gates laid down and I had to manually go put 'em up when the water level was low enough where I could safely do it.
It amounted to about 18% less electricity production during that time. Stang says it could be up to three months until the gates could be raised again. He says the new automated gates will allow him to raise and lower the gates as needed and increase output sooner.
The project began in July 2016 and is slated to be completed toward the end of February.