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RRHP ‘watered up’ for commissioning tests

Aug 01, 2020

RRHP ‘watered up’ for commissioning tests

Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP) recently took another step toward completion when wet commissioning of Unit 2 started July 20.

As part of the commissioning process, the hydroelectric plant was “watered up,” where water from the Red Rock Reservoir was allowed to flow into and through the facility for testing purposes.

“Everything from the intake gates to the penstock to the turbine is tested to ensure it’s watertight and working properly,” said Brent Moeller, Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) director of generation resources. “To fill up the turbine and all the components you’re looking at a good eight-hour process.”

Moeller said Voith Hydro out of York, Penn., who manufactured the turbines and generators for the project, is responsible for commissioning the units before commercial operation begins.

“Part of the contract with the turbine supplier is they do commissioning and testing of their equipment,” Moeller said. “We have people there interfacing with them and the contractor, but they’re kind of running the show at this point, with a team of people inspecting the instrumentation and all the components.”

During the tests, several small leaks were discovered, so the plant was “dewatered” the first weekend in August to repair some welds.

“We lost one day of commissioning due to this problem, but our guys worked through the weekend and got it turned around,” Moeller said. In fact, a few short days later, MRES staff was notified Unit 2 was generating electricity and synchronized with the grid for a short time on Aug. 10 and 11.

The commissioning of Unit 2 was scheduled to wrap up the week of Aug. 17, and Moeller said a 30-day test run of the unit is the next step of the process.

“The 30-day run allows them to get all the bugs worked out,” he said. “If nothing shows up during that time period then the manufacturer will turn it over to us.”

Moeller said commissioning of RRHP’s second generating unit, which is actually Unit 1, is slated to start in the next few weeks.

“Commissioning of the second unit is expected to go through Sept. 14, and then it will do its own 30-day run,” he said. “That puts us in the middle of October when we take over and go into full commercial operation mode with both units.” 

However, Moeller said lower-than-average flow on the Des Moines River and the Red Rocks Reservoir this summer has the potential to delay any final testing, but the units will be in commercial operation very soon.

“We may not be able to complete the 30-day run test for both units at this time due to water availability,” he said. “We may have to pick this up next spring. This year has been a dry year, and there is simply not enough water flowing through the Des Moines River to get us up to full power testing.”