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There's Something To Be Said for Having the Right Kind of Singular Focus

Construction at the Youngs Creek powerhouse near Sultan, Wash., was moving along just fine when the day came to install the facility’s turbine. But there was one problem: It wouldn’t fit through the door.

The casing on the turbine was too wide, and there was no way to reposition it to squeeze it in.

(Left: The Young's Creek powerhouse) But instead of dwelling on the problem, project managers found a solution: They would lift the generator up and into the powerhouse through the yet-to-be completed roof. Using two cranes -- one to lift the machine, the other to rotate it to the proper position -- crews were able to get the turbine inside and ready for installation.

This, says Danny Miles of the Snohomish County Public Utilities District, was just one example of how unforeseen challenges at Youngs Creek were solved. He related this story and more last week at the Northwest Hydropower Association’s technical conference in Maryville, Wash.

To be sure, other issues popped up. But there was one thing Miles said that stuck out. Sometimes when problems arise, it’s easy for project managers and contractors to fall into the blame-game trap. This group, however, stuck to the plan and worked things out. (Right: A view of the Young's Creek Powerhouse's 7.5 MW generator)

Miles said it was a case of people keeping their eyes on the project instead of the arguing over the terms of a contract when complications arose.

The result: a $29 million 7.5-MW, single-generator facility that was named Renewable Energy World’s Hydro Project of the Year. It’s Washington’s first new hydro project in nearly two decades and was dedicated in October -- partly due to a tight focus on finishing the project instead of dwelling on the challenges.



[Editor's Note: Do you know about another award-worthy renewable energy project that will go online between August 1, 2011 and July 31st, 2012?  If so, nominate it for our Project of the Year Awards, which will be handed out at Renewable Energy World North America, now co-located with Power Gen International.  The show takes place December 9-11, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. Nominations are open now. Nominate here. More about the show at this link.]



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