GE Renewable Energy to upgrade Don Pedro hydroelectric plant in California

GE Renewable Energy signed a refurbishment contract with the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) to modernize the powerhouse of the Don Pedro hydropower plant in California, which is jointly owned by TID and Modesto Irrigation District (MID). Upon completion of the refurbishment project, the maximum capacity of the facility will increase from 203 MW to approximately 268 MW. This amount of energy is sufficient to meet the energy needed to power approximately 150,000 homes. The new units will increase the power plant’s efficiency, operating range and have a design life of 50 years.

The scope of the project includes the replacement of 4 turbines and 3 generators and the repair of one additional generator. The main objective of the refurbishment is to maintain the overall plant equipment reliability for another five decades to come. In addition, the replacement of the units will increase their efficiency and performance in a way that responds to the growing needs of TID and MID customers. This upgrade will also help the Districts accomplish long term clean energy goals, and capture more flexible, fast ramping capacity for grid support. “The Don Pedro hydropower plant is critical to TID and MID, and we look forward to 50 more years of reliable operation. The modernization effort will enhance the efficiency and performance of the plant, and enable continued support of our grids and customers,” said Brad Koehn, TID’s Chief Operating Officer.

Pascal Radue, President and CEO of GE Renewable Energy’s Hydropower business said, “With the increase of renewable energy in California, grid stability is and will be critical and the installed hydropower fleet can be retrofitted to play a significant role. Helping our customers address the increased demands for flexibility is vital in today’s energy markets. We are very excited about this new partnership with TID and MID that enables us to clearly understand their needs and work side by side in order to provide a customized solution and execution plan that best meets their needs.”

Beyond providing electricity to the region, the Don Pedro power plant has another important mission. The original dam was built in 1923, with a storage capacity of only 289,000 acre-feet, the original dam held virtually enough water to accommodate farmers’ irrigation needs for a single growing season. Recognizing the need for increased storage to weather multiple dry year periods, the new Don Pedro Project, including the current dam and powerhouse, was built, creating a 2,030,000 acre-feet reservoir, not only providing for irrigation needs but also creating opportunities for recreation, flood control, and increased generation.