About 7% of the United States’ electricity comes from hydropower, making it the country’s largest source of renewable power. Of the 80,000 or so dams in the US, fewer than 3% are powered: there is huge potential to use existing structures to reduce our carbon footprint by adding generating stations to these existing structures.
Hydropower is the nation’s largest source of renewable electricity. Growing this resource will bring more clean, low-cost electricity to additional American families while creating jobs across the country.
Humans have been harnessing the power of water for thousands of years and for more than a century, the technology for using falling water to create hydroelectricity has existed.
|B.C.||Hydropower was utilized by the ancient Greeks to turn water wheels that ground wheat into flour.|
|1802||The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was founded and tasked with the creation and operation of the US Military Academy at West Point. They would, in the 20th Century, come to lead federal flood control agency and become a major provider of the country’s hydroelectricity.|
|1870||Amos Woodward invents the non-compensating mechanical waterwheel governor and Woodward Governor Company was founded.|
|1881||The first hydroelectric generating station was built on the Niagara River powering local mills and village streetlamps when it went into operation as the Niagara Falls Power Co in 1895.|
|1882||The world’s first hydroelectric power plant began operation on Fox River in Appleton, WI.|
|1896||The first long-distance transmission of electricity began flowing from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, NY, over 25 miles away, thanks to the power generated by hydroelectricity.|
|1899||The River and Harbors Act of 1899 requires Congressional consent and USACE plan approval before new construction can begin on dams in any navigable US waterways.|
|1902||The U.S. Reclamation Service (USRS) is established to promote irrigation projects in the arid West to “reclaim” land for human use and settlement.|
|1906||USACE completes construction of Lock & Dam No. 1 in Minneapolis, MN.|
|1908||Congress authorizes a height increase for Lock & Dam No. 1 to allow for hydroelectric generation.|
|The earliest U.S. Reclamation Service hydroelectric plants go into operation.|
|1920||Congress establishes the Federal Power Commission to coordinate federally-controlled hydroelectric projects.|
|1923||USRS, now an independent bureau, is renamed the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).|
|1928||Congress authorizes the Boulder Canyon Project, ratifying the Boulder Canyon Act and authorizing construction of the Hoover Dam.|
|1933||Congress establishes the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to address a wide range of environmental, economic, and technological issues. TVA built dams to harness the region’s rivers controlling floods, improving navigation and generating electricity.|
|1940s||USBR dams ramped up power output to support America’s efforts in World War II, producing enough electricity to make 69,000 airplanes and 5,000 ships and tanks during a five year period.|
|1986||The Water Resources Development Act detailed that non-federal interests should shoulder more of the burden and expense in maintaining aging water resources infrastructure. An update to this act passed in the Senate in May 2013 and requires passage by the House of Representatives before potentially being signed into law by the President.|
|2000||Woodward Governor is acquired by GE Power Systems. GE discontinues support to Woodward’s legacy hydroelectric product line.|
|American Governor Company is founded and continues providing top quality parts and services to the world’s hydroelectric power plants abandoned by the Woodward acquisition.|
|2009||U.S. Dept. of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announces up to $32M in Recovery Act funding to modernize existing hydropower infrastructure in the U.S. to increase efficiency and reduce environmental impact.|
|2013||President Barack Obama signs the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act into law.|
|Present & Future||A vast expansion of hydropower’s potential is possible through new technologies for conventional, pumped storage and marine and hydrokinetic projects, modernizing existing hydropower facilities and adding generation to existing non-powered dams.|
Sources: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: A Brief History, Niagara Power Project, The Library of Congress, Tesla Memorial Society of New York, Rivers and Harbors Acts, Upper Mississippi Locks & Dams, History of FERC, Brief History of the Bureau of Reclamation, From the New Deal to a New Century, Woodward Governor Company History, Hydropower Milestones
Permanent Speed Droop allows generators to be paralleled to a common grid. In the following discussion all references to “Speed Droop” are referring to Permanent Speed Droop.
Utilities would find this type of governor control unacceptable, because they want to be able to predict what load each generating unit carries. It must be remembered that whenever the governor opens the wicket gates, load (Generation) will be added to the grid. The permanent speed droop characteristic of the governor allows the utilities to be able to predictably set the load level of each generating unit connected to the grid.
The other characteristic that Speed Droop provides when it is adjusted to any value other than zero is controlling the amount of the governor participation to frequency excursions that occur on the grid.
Before discussing more about Speed Droop another governor characteristic must be defined and that is the governor Speed Adjustment control. The governor speed adjustment controls on most mechanical governors allow the turbine/generator speed to be controlled from 85% normal speed to 105% normal speed. The governor Speed Adjustment indicating dial indicates 100% unit speed when both the red and black hands are pointing in the 12 O’clock position (on cabinet actuators). Although the dial on the Speed Adjustment indicator reads zero at this position it really is the setting for 100 % normal unit speed. When the generator is connected to the grid and the governor has been adjusted for 5% Speed Droop, it merely indicates that it takes a 5% change in the Speed Adjustment control or the system frequency to make the gates move 100%.
Permanent Speed Droop Defined
The magnitude of wicket gate movement, in response to system frequency changes or speed changer adjustments by the operator to adjust load, depends on the droop setting on the governor. Droop can practically be thought of as the inverse of gain between the speed changer position and the wicket gate position.
Once the unit has been synchronized to the grid, the unit Speed Adjustment can be used to increase generation by having the gates open as a function of the unit Speed Adjustment setting. From the Droop curve it can be seen that by increasing the Speed Adjustment from 98% to 100% the gates will open to 50% gate. This is a change of 20% gate for a change of 1% Speed Adjustment.
As long as the grid frequency remains at 60 Hz (100% normal speed) the Speed Adjustment will have the relationship as shown in the Speed Adjustment curve shown in Figure 2. Assume a unit is connected to the grid, with 5% Speed Droop and the Speed Adjustment is set for 100% and the gates are at 50% position. If the grid frequency increases 1% or to 60.6 Hz the gates will go closed 20% or from 50% gate position to 30% gate position or open 20% to 50% gate on a frequency drop to 59.4 Hz.
The above description of droop operation is based on setting up the unit off-line with the field breaker closed, droop at zero, speed changer at 100% and running at 60 Hz.
Checking Speed Droop
Droop is set with the dial on the front of the governor cabinet, and calibration of the dial is through either a turnbuckle link (Woodward Governors) or a slotted lever (Pelton Governors) behind the front of the cabinet. Most Woodward Gateshaft and “A” Actuators have adjustable droop cams which when fully open provide 5% droop. Usually percent of droop indication was not provided.
An easy check of droop calibration is to:
On some mechanical governors droop calibration and adjustment will change the speed-no-load position on the speed changer. With the unit off-line the speed-no-load setting should be established by setting droop to zero and the speed changer to100 %, and adjusting the floating lever connecting rod on Woodward Governors, or the pilot valve setscrew on Pelton Governors, to produce 60 hertz generator frequency.