MRES awarded for worker safety at Red Rock Hydroelectric Project

MRES awarded for worker safety at Red Rock Hydroelectric Project

Mar 17

Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) earned a safety award from Liberty Mutual Insurance for outstanding safety during the ongoing construction of the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project near Pella, Iowa.

Liberty Mutual awards its Silver Safety Award to companies for projects that have an incident rate at least 60 percent better than the industry average. MRES is building the project at the existing Red Rock Dam on the Des Moines River. Ames Construction is the general contractor and on Tuesday, MRES provided lunch for all of the construction workers.

MRES CEO Tom Heller, in accepting the award during a luncheon for the construction workers sponsored by MRES, thanked the workers for their commitment and dedication to be safe on the job. “There are many worksite challenges in a project of this magnitude,” Heller said. “Without a strong focus on safety, there could be a lot of potential for accidents. At MRES and at Ames Construction, our first concern is to protect you and the public.”

When complete in 2018, the project will provide enough clean, reliable, renewable hydroelectric energy to meet the needs of about 18,000 homes.

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Work to begin next week on Red Rock project transmission line

Dec 31

Crews will begin working next week to clear foliage in preparation for construction of an electric transmission line that will run about 4.5 miles from the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project to the Pella West Substation. The line is necessary to get power from the hydroelectric plant, which is under construction at the Red Rock Dam, to a point where it can be distributed.

The transmission line will run along Highway T15 northward until it reaches G-28 and then will run eastward along Fifield Road to West 11th Street in Pella where it will run northward to the substation.

The entire 69-kilovolt line will be in the public right-of-way, except where overhang or pole placement easements have been obtained from land owners, and will include single-pole structures with no guy wires.

Missouri River Energy Services, which is building the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project, plans to have the transmission portion of the project completed by spring 2016. The hydroelectric plant itself is expected to be completed and operational by spring 2018.

When it is completed, the plant will be capable of providing enough clean, renewable hydroelectricity to supply the electrical needs of about 18,000 homes.

Missouri River Energy Services is an organization of 60 member municipalities, including Pella, in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Each member owns and operates a local electric distribution utility.

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Upstream work at hydroelectric plant temporarily suspended

Upstream work at hydroelectric plant temporarily suspended

Dec 21

Work on the upstream side of the Red Rock Dam at the hydroelectric project will be temporarily suspended as water levels are expected to rise to an elevation of 764 feet by Christmas Day.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently announced that it expects the rise in water levels following heavy rains that dumped three inches in much of the Red Rock Dam drainage basin over a two-day period Dec. 12 and 13. The dam is located on the Des Moines River near Pella, Iowa.

Work has been under way at the 750-foot elevation on the upstream side of the dam as crews prepare the site to build an intake structure for the hydroelectric plant that will be operated by Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) of Sioux Falls, S.D. 

Crews have demobilized, moving equipment and materials to higher ground, in preparation for the anticipated high water levels. All upstream work will be temporarily suspended until water levels return to normal. Work is continuing as usual on the downstream side of the dam. 

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Safety is first priority during blasting at hydro project

Nov 27

Blasting of bedrock to prepare for the construction of a powerhouse is proceeding as designed at the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP) near Pella, IA.  Approximately 21,000 cubic yards of bedrock has been removed from the powerhouse excavation, with approximately 11,300 cubic yards yet to be removed.  Blasting began Oct. 28 to loosen the bedrock so that it can be removed from the site. 

Watch the two videos here:
Nov. 2, 2015 Video
Nov. 3, 2015 Video

The safety of the public and workers continues to be of the utmost importance; therefore, additional safety precautions are taken before, during, and after each blast.  In preparation for each blast, explosives are placed into holes that are strategically drilled into the bedrock.  Large rubber pads are placed on top of the explosives to minimize flying rock and debris. 

Before the explosives are ignited, a warning siren sounds throughout the area to indicate the blast will take place in 10 minutes and all workers move to designated safe areas.  A second warning siren sounds 5 minutes before the explosives are ignited. Traffic is stopped and Highway T-15 is closed during the entire blasting sequence. Variable message boards and additional signage provide advance warnings of the road closures.

Spotters watch each blast for any irregularities or other problems. Following the blast, the spotters check in and give their reports. Next, a worker goes down to the blast site to verify that a device called the “tattletale” has received the blast signal. The charges are wired together in a series with an electrical charge setting off the explosives one at a time.  The tattletale is the last device in the series.  If the tattletale received the signal, the crew can be assured that all of the explosives have discharged. Once that assurance is verified, the “all clear” signal is given and Highway T-15 is immediately reopened.  Road closures have typically been only 10 to 15 minutes in duration.  However, longer closures may be needed in the future if one or more of the charges fails to ignite. 

Excavation using the blasting method is expected to continue through mid-December. 

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Excavation at hydro project site now includes blasting

Excavation at hydro project site now includes blasting

Oct 28

Excavation for the powerhouse and tailrace at the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP) site at the Lake Red Rock Dam has now reached bedrock, which means that explosives will be needed to remove the final layers of bedrock before the powerhouse foundation can be set. 

Excavation using explosives starts with holes being drilled into the bedrock.  Explosives are then placed in the holes and ignited causing the rock to crack and splinter.  Crews can then break up and haul the rock away from the site. The first blast occurred at 12:35 p.m., Wednesday and went very well, according to Ray Wahle, Power Supply and Operations director at Missouri River Energy Services (MRES). “We plan to excavate in this manner over a two-month period,” Wahle said. “The powerhouse, where electricity from the project will be generated, will be located at that spot.”

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