Last week while most folks were winding down for Super Bowl weekend, hydropower staff at Hartwell were gearing up to keep their generators functional.
Around lunchtime on Thursday (Jan. 30), Nick Ruff (hydropower electrician) and John Clark (hydropower mechanic) smelled something burning.
(Side note: A burning smell in a hydroelectric power plant is never a good sign.)
They quickly alerted other co-workers including Tim Morrill (senior mechanic), Bob Vanhorn (duty operator), and Ryan Hanna (power plant manager). Unit 1 was promptly shutdown, safely cleared out, and inspected. The team discovered burnt slip rings and brush rigging in Unit 1’s exciter housing.
After assessing the situation, the team decided to cannibalize parts from Unit 3, which has been out of service for some time, and use them to repair Unit 1. The team worked quickly despite several additional obstacles, including intermittent rain, and had the unit back online by Saturday evening.
Usually, weather would not be a factor, but Hartwell is the only U.S. Army Corps of Engineers power house that has its generators outside. The crew had to routinely stop work to dry the surfaces before continuing with the repair.
Normally this type of repair would require the power house to contract out the work, which can be costly in terms of parts, labor and time that the unit is not in operation.
Hanna, the power plant manager, estimated this repair would have taken at least two months for the work to be completed, including the time to ship the assembly each way.
He said for every day that one unit is not available to generate power, that’s about $13,500 that could have gone into the Treasury. Hartwell’s plant has five generators. So Hartwell’s team not only saved us a ton of money and time, they allowed us to continue to provide stable power to the region without skipping a beat.
Other Hartwell MVPs who were part of the repair: Hydropower electricians Leland teNijenhuis and Chris Jennell, and hydropowermechanic Chris Willis.
We’re grateful for the super role our Hartwell professionals played leading up to the Super Bowl.
~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office