Hydro Plant O&M: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Review Program

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is heavily involved in the hydro industry. Reclamation is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States.

The Bureau’s 58 power plants annually provide more than 40 billion kilowatt hours – generating nearly a billion dollars in power revenues and produce enough electricity to serve 3.5 million homes. Because of their size and scope, the Bureau consistently evaluates O&M practices of its plants in order to ensure safe and reliable production.

Talmadge Oxford, Manager of Hydro O&M Review Program, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, answered a series of questions written by marcus evans before the forthcoming 3rd Hydro Plant Maintenance and Reliability Conference November 6-7, 2013. All responses represent the view of Mr. Oxford and not necessarily those of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

What does the Bureau’s O&M review program look for when evaluating its hydro plants?

TO: The Power Review of Operations and Maintenance (PRO&M) Program provides periodic assessments of each power plant and its associated facilities to evaluate the application and effectiveness of power operations and maintenance (O&M). Evaluation of the checksheets, which are based on Reclamation’s O&M Program as defined by Facilities Instruction, Standards, and Techniques (FIST) manuals, better ensure that electrical maintenance, mechanical maintenance, operations, management, and SCADA, if applicable, are covered. The reviews are primarily a processed-based review covering all or most of the following: -Systemic issues identified as a problem due to issues inherent in the overall system, rather than due to a specific, individual, or isolated factor. -Identification of problem areas -Review of selected test results and records -Review of job plans -Status of unexpected event corrective action plans -Visual inspection of facility and equipment -Interviews with selected facility and area office staff -Formal documentation of review findings and recommendations -Evaluation of management practices -Review of rehabilitation work items and schedules -Confirmation of completion of associated program inspections and reviews -Evaluation of maintenance practices and records to verify compliance with Reclamation and industry standards -Confirmation of completion of the Facility Rating Review -Confirmation of dependable and sustainable service to authorized project beneficiaries -Recognition of exceptional or innovative practices and approaches or both -Review of maintenance management practices -Review of forced outages rates and individual outage records -Review of unit availability rates

-Review of Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) and the Program Assessment and Rating Tool requirements -Issues of special concern to facility and area office staff

What are the common issues uncovered by the review program?

TO: Different issues are identified at each facility. Compliance with safety programs, documentation and drawing management, training issues, preventive maintenance non-completion, functional testing of station service and protective relays/schemes are just some of the items that have been found.

What standards do you use to measure the reliability of an O&M program?

TO: Reclamation is striving to provide a uniform set of O&M procedures, practices, and schedules to be utilized by the staff at the power facilities for the O&M of the plants. The uniform set of O&M procedures, practices, and schedules serve as the resource for the regions to define their techniques and approaches and are intended to provide a sufficient level of detail to ensure consistent application. It also serves to still provide flexibility for the use of innovative techniques and approaches to meet the equipment O&M requirements. Facilities Instruction, Standards, and Techniques manuals describe practices, procedures, and schedules and are used to establish requirements for the O&M of Reclamation power facilities and equipment. Facilities Instruction, Standards, and Techniques manuals further define those practices that are related to compliance issues such as safety (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) or reliability (North American Electric Reliability Corporation).

How often do you conduct a review?

TO: Annual Facility Reviews are conducted on an annual basis, excluding years when a Periodic Facility Review or Comprehensive Facility Review is performed. Comprehensive Facility Reviews are conducted at each facility every 6 years, alternating with the Periodic Facility Reviews so that one or the other takes place every 3 years.

What safety risks do you look for?

TO: Safety, to the degree that it is directly applicable to power O&M, is addressed; but the reviews are not intended to be a comprehensive safety review. Visual inspection of the facility usually identifies deficiencies such as emergency lighting, equipment condition that presents hazards, and other safety hazards. Further in-depth analysis of O&M practices may identify additional safety hazards associated with not performing maintenance such as a lack of functional testing to ensure equipment operates correctly, proper use of personal protective equipment, proper use of lockout/tagout procedures, or failure to follow recommendations associated with the Electrical Safety Program including arc flash hazards.

How does this program ensure safe and successful operation and maintenance routines at the plant?

TO: A formal report is prepared detailing the findings, conclusions, and incomplete recommendations of the review. The report includes the status of incomplete recommendations and status of any recommendations from unexpected event report evaluations, details and reasoning for new recommendations, a narrative describing the conditions found, and representative photographs or illustrations that document conditions. Depending on the type of recommendation, managers at various levels are made aware of the issues to better ensure they are addressed by the facility. Category 1 recommendations involve the correction of severe deficiencies where immediate and responsive action is required to ensure: (1) Structural integrity (soundness of the facility structure and operating equipment necessary to prevent catastrophic failure). (2) Compliance with legal or regulatory requirements: (a) Power-related safety practices (necessary to protect the life or health of employees, visitors, or the public). (b) Entities regulating power system reliability/stability (i.e., North American Electric Reliability Corporation/Western Electricity Coordinating Council). Category 2 recommendations cover a wide range of important matters where action is needed to: (1) Prevent or reduce further damage (2) Preclude possible structural failure or operational disruption (3) Meet mandatory safety, management, operational, maintenance, or Reclamation FIST, and industry standards Category 3 recommendations cover matters that are believed to be sound and beneficial suggestions to improve or enhance the O&M. Recommendations are to be considered prior to the next CFR or PFR. The Annual Power O&M Summary Report provides an overview of effectiveness in accomplishing Category 1, 2, and 3 recommendations related to the power facilities. The report is sent to the Deputy Commissioner, Operations, and the Regional Directors. An Annual Power O&M Report is developed for each power plant to assess the effectiveness of area office power O&M, including accomplishments, goals, and compliance with technical standards; O&M business practices; other reviews; power improvement program; and safety, security, environmental, and associated programs. The report is sent to the Senior Advisor, Hydropower; Manager, PRO; and the Regional Directors.

Currently the Manager of Hydro O&M Review Program at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Talmadge has thirty years of nuclear and hydroelectric power operations and electrical experience with the U.S. Navy, Chelan County P.U.D., and the Bureau of Reclamation.

For more information please contact Tyler Kelch, Marketing/PR Coordinator, marcus evans at 312-540-3000 ext. 6680 or tylerke@marcusevansch.com.

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