Completed in 1957 on the Idaho-Wyoming border 55 miles from Idaho Falls, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Palisades Project features a 270-ft-high, zoned earthen embankment dam, 1.4 million acre-feet reservoir, spillway, and a 176.6-megawatt hydroelectric generating facility. Reclamation retained Schnabel to help troubleshoot a persistent problem bringing one of four turbine units back online after they were overhauled.

Over the years, various improvements have been made to the turbine/generator equipment. When installed, the four units were rated at 29.5 megawatts each. Between 1994 and today, the four Francis turbine units were uprated to their current capacity of 44.1 megawatts. The most recent work at the Palisades powerhouse began in 2011 when Reclamation hired a contractor to overhaul turbine units 1 through 4. Although the work was originally planned for completion in mid-2016, the contractor encountered numerous difficulties in bringing the final hydroelectric unit back online.

In August 2017, through a coordinated effort with the contractor and Reclamation, we began assisting Reclamation’s technical staff in assessing the problems encountered in completing the Palisades Project Unit No. 2 turbine rehabilitation. Our work included a review of contract documents, contractor’s field notes, detailed field measurements using laser metrology, the development of a shimming plan for the unit’s base ring, and extended field visits to observe the assembly procedure. The unit was successfully put back into service and resumed power generation in 2019.

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