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Black & Veatch Boosts Dam’s Hydropower Capacity by 47 Percent
Project Increases Reliable Electrical Capacity Without Changing River Operation
The Twin Falls dam on the Menominee River, bordering Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, was built in 1912. The hydroelectric dam has been repaired and upgraded many times over its life.
There were two primary issues at Twin Falls dam: inadequate spillway capacity and an aging powerhouse. Both created safety issues, even though the Twin Falls impoundment structures were in good condition and licensed to operate until 2040. However, the powerhouse, also built in 1912, was not in condition to operate safely for the duration of the license.
Black & Veatch solved both challenges by providing design and project management for the new powerhouse and spillways. New spillway gates were installed and a new powerhouse was built on the opposite abutment of the dam from the existing plant. By building on the Wisconsin side of the river, the old facility on the Michigan side was able to remain in operation during construction.
“The key values that Black & Veatch brought to this project were their deep technical expertise and experience building hydroelectric projects.”
Todd Jastremski, Asset Manager, Hydro Operations, WEC Energy Group
The new powerhouse uses two larger, modern turbines that are more efficient and environmentally friendly than the five units at the old powerhouse, which produced 6.1 megawatts (MW) of power. The new, more reliable turbines will boost the plant’s capacity to 9.2 MW.
Benefits to WEC Energy Group’s customers from this project include energy reliability, more renewable energy without the use of more natural resources, more protection during flooding, and a clean, undisturbed environment for daily life and recreation on the river.
The scope of Black & Veatch services included detailed engineering of the project, procurement of electrical and mechanical components, resident engineering, startup and commissioning, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission coordination.
The National Hydropower Association recognized the Twin Falls Powerhouse Redevelopment project with its 2017 Outstanding Stewards of Americas Waterways Operational Excellence Award.
“We did not change the way we operate the reservoir. All of the things the community has enjoyed, they'll get to continue to enjoy.”
The new powerhouse features lower velocity screening upstream to prevent fish from entering the inlet, as well as fish-friendly turbines.