DPU’s Abiquiu Hydroelectric Facility Earns Engineering Excellence Award

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITIES News

The Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities Abiquiu Hydroelectric Facility received another award for the low flow turbine project.

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) New Mexico awarded the Engineering Excellence Award in the “Energy” category to AECOM for its engineering design work on the low flow project.

An award banquet is set to take place at the Sandia Hotel and Casino April 6.

Workers install a 3 mw turbine in a blue spiral case in the power house at the Abiquiu Hydroelectric Facility owned and operated by the Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities. Courtesy Photo

James Alarid, Deputy Utility Manager – Engineering said that “AECOM met very aggressive schedule to complete design and get regulatory approvals of the design. This was critical to meet our construction schedule.”

In 1985, the Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities and County Council voted to pursue the construction of two clean, renewable hydroelectric facilities.

The two facilities, El Vado and Abiquiu were placed online in 1989 and 1991 respectively.

For more than 20 years, they’ve generated renewable energy that together with the Federal hydropower allocation averages between 20-28 percent of the total, annual energy load for Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos National Laboratory combined.

This past fiscal year, with a grant from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the DPU installed a low flow 3 megawatt turbine/generator to the Abiquiu facility, increasing the generation capacity by 22 percent.

Additionally, the new turbine/generator improves the facility’s efficiency as it generates power from stream flows that are below and above the existing turbine/generators capability.

Representing fifty percent of the total price tag, the project received a $4.5 million Recovery Act grant from the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Program.

The new turbine was placed into commission last April and was the first hydropower project funded by the Recovery Act to be completed nationwide.

The turbine produces enough energy to power 1,100 homes annually the low-flow turbine supplies clean energy to Los Alamos County, including DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy joined U.S. Senator Tom Udall and Los Alamos County officials to celebrate the unveiling of the 3 megawatt turbine-generator.

The project will also contribute 100 percent renewable energy to the Abiquiu Dam facility that is owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of an agreement between the Corps and the County.

In exchange for the renewable energy credits the Corps agreed to release water through the dam in a manner that would increase renewable energy generation from the DPU hydropower facility without deviating from its mandate to release water for flood control and water rights.

 

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