Our value is in our workforce.
Proud to be Veteran Owned

Historic Hydropower

Susan Dunlap

Hydropower was the first large-scale renewable energy source used in the US. Many of the hydro sites where RUS works today are well over 100 years old. While we all count on the reliability of hydropower, it is easy to forget how revolutionary the idea was in 1895 to transmit generated hydropower over cable lines to homes and businesses.

We recently ran across a book called Men and Volts: The Story of General Electric, written by John Winthrop Hammond in 1941. Hammond explained that twenty-five GE motors (newly installed in 1895) drove all the spindles in the Pelzer Manufacturing Company’s Upper Mill, which was the first cotton mill in the US to use transmission cable. Captain Ellison Smythe, the mill’s owner, showed true courage to sign a contract for electric motors instead of the mechanical rope drive that his other mill’s used. The public was skeptical – and the mill hands were convinced that the scheme would never work.

“On the day the mill started operation, a kind friend approached Captain Smythe … and offered his condolences on the failure of the electrical transmission system. ‘I’ve watched those wires all day,’ he said, ‘and they haven’t moved yet.’” The story is told that mill operatives placed pails beneath the wires, in order to “to catch the electricity that fell off.”

Those same electrical motors that successfully powered Pelzer Manufacturing quickly became a hit with other industries, including “mines, shoe factories, yarn mills, tanneries, powder mills, watch factories, and even for blowing church organs.” And Smythe did not stop there – the Pelzer Manufacturing Company’s Upper Mill was the first mill in the country to use incandescent lighting.

At RUS, we know that hydropower is renewable and reliable – and we appreciate that it is also historic. Thank you to the visionaries of 1895!

Sources – Hydro Review, October 1997, and Electrical World, March 14, 1896, as found at www.reference.insulators.info. Photo credit: https://reference.insulators.info/publications/view/?id=10261

 

Visit RUS at Hydrovision 2018

Susan Dunlap

Come visit Regional Utility Services at Hydrovison this summer! We’ll be in booth 531 from June 26 to June 28 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Hydrovision is the largest worldwide gathering of hydro professionals – there will be 320 exhibiting companies from around the world. RUS is proud to be a part of this amazing event!

We know how busy a trade show can be for attendees, with 60 conference sessions offered in only three days. So we invite you to visit us. The RUS booth features comfortable sofas and chairs in a relaxed setting. Stop by, put your feet up, and get to know us. If you have any questions about our services, Technical Director Jerry Moody (with his 30+ years of hydro experience) will be on hand to share his knowledge and expertise.

RUS is dedicated to ensuring the future sustainability of hydro. We have successfully completed projects for Alcoa, Duke Energy, Enel Green Power, Santee Cooper, Southern Company, TVA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and many other hydroelectric companies across the Southeast. Our RUS hydro crews provide cost-effective solutions, from water in to water out.

Look forward to seeing you at Hydrovision 2108!

Our Hydro-Electric Division – Preserving History

This camelback (in the RUS shop for scale removal, weld repairs, and preservation) is from one of the oldest continuously operating alternating current hydroelectric facilities in the United States. The Lower Pelzer Hydro plant was designed by Thomas Edison, and began generating power in 1895 on the Saluda River. What an honor to work on this important part of our country’s history!

The camelback is pictured post-restoration. According to Project Manager Jerry Moody, this piece of equipment is capable of performing in a hydroelectric plant for another 100 years.

RUS delivers complete solutions to the hydro industry, including major component replacements and balance of plant system maintenance. Our unique management approach ensures delivery of safe, cost-effective solutions resulting in improved plant performance and profitability for our customers.

RUS project managers deliver superior services through a hands-on approach, from the pre-bid process to the final closeout. Our team leaders provide critical oversight and reporting for our projects, and they offer value-added solutions through key partnerships with our customers. RUS is known for providing the highest quality hydro service solutions available.

HYDRO SERVICES CAPABILITIES:

1. Complete turbine inspection, replacement, and repair

2. Excitation upgrades (including collector ring inspection, replacement and repair)

3. Generator inspection, cleaning, testing (including field pole removal and replacement)

4. Head gate and head gear inspection, repair and replacement

5. Intake/outflow structures (flume lines, pen stocks, draft tubes) inspection, repair, replacement

6. Runner cavitation (stainless steel, cast iron, carbon) and flashing repair. 7. Power Plant upgrades, including demolition

If you are in need of a contractor to perform your Hydro-Electric plant maintenance (whether it be outage, preventative, or corrective), give RUS a call. It would be an honor to assist your team in maintaining your plant’s efficiency and availability at its highest possible level.

RUS grows through Waste-to-Energy

Regional Utility Services is a small business that wants to grow along with the Waste-to-Energy industry. RUS representatives Nathan Faulkner and Don Varner recently attended the 24th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference in Florida. The conference focused on managing existing power generation facilities for maximum success, as well as exploring the best opportunities to develop new facilities to recover energy from waste.

While coal-fired facilities have formed the backbone of the Southeast’s power grid, the commitment to generate cleaner energy has encouraged many companies to retire older, less efficient coal-fired plants and replace them with low- or zero-emission electricity sources, including:

  • Cleaner natural gas plants
  • Increased nuclear capacity
  • Investments in renewable resources

As power generation companies continue to diversify their portfolios with alternative energy sources, Regional Utility Services wants to be a key player in the future of energy. RUS crews have a specialized skill set from their work in the fossil fields; these skills are a valuable asset in the WTE industry.

Whether a power plant is creating energy using coal or using waste, the equipment is similar: conveyor systems, boilers, dryers, bag houses, scrubbers, turbines and generators. Instead of the WTE industry spending their resources training new installation and maintenance crews, these companies can hire RUS crews that already possess the specialized skill sets to go straight to work.

“Coal processing plants have closed at a faster speed than anyone originally predicted,” said President and CEO Dan Cothran. “We have trained and experienced fossil crews on hand who can quickly and easily adapt to the equipment in the WTE field.”

Building up “STEAM”

“I liked the way I could turn on the water and turn the turbine on the model to create power,” said Tyler, a 5th grade student at Roebuck Elementary School. Tyler is a STEAM Scholar, and he participates in a program at his school that focuses on collaborative experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math.

The goal of STEAM at Roebuck Elementary is to build a strong foundation for young learners in these important areas. By providing hands-on opportunities, students are encouraged to become engaged in science and technology-related fields. What better way to peak their curiosity than to set up a working hydro power plant inside their classroom?

Regional Utility Services did just that. President and CEO Dan Cothran and Business Development Director Nathan Faulkner brought a working model of a dam to Roebuck Elementary and let the students generate power. Kelseay grasped the key concept, saying she “liked learning how water can be turned into energy.” Her classmate Lorden made the connection between the demonstration and the ultimate result: “I liked how the engineers create simple machines that can be used for big things.”

As students controlled the flow of water, they began to understand how an increase in the water’s pressure turned the turbine faster and generated more power. They also learned about the history of dams and the important part they play in the Southeast. Kaitlyn appreciated the stories of how Regional Utility Services crew members have to think creatively to repair many of the hydro plants. She explained that “the engineers told us about the places they worked and about all of their imagination to make things better.”

Roebuck’s STEAM Program is a Spartanburg School District 6 initiative and part of the national program, “Project Lead the Way.” Roebuck is one of the first “Project Lead the Way” schools in the nation. The school’s core commitments include community involvement and partnerships with local businesses, providing much needed support for the STEAM Program.

Regional Utility services is proud to support a local school that is encouraging students to become electrical engineers and industrial designers. These STEAM scholars will shape the future of our business and our community. Thank you for letting RUS be a part of your STEAM Program, Roebuck Elementary School!