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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.