Category Archives: Conservation

The Dam Site

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day Holiday last week.

Our family took an RV trip over to Port Angeles, WA where we camped next to the former Elwha Dam Site. Yes, I chose a vacation destination based on a power plant location… and my family agreed to join me!

If you’re not familiar with the Elwha restoration project, you can get more details here.

In a nutshell, two power producing dams that were built in the early 1900’s (without following required permit and treaty construction practices) are being removed because, as the BBC put it “Adding new [fish] ladders would have proved prohibitively expensive. And the dams also needed major upgrades because they no longer met modern environmental standards or produced energy at an efficient price.”

Webcams of the area are availablehere

There are also some YouTube videos available of the dam removals:
Elwha Dam Removal process (animation with notes)
Glines Canyon Removal (time-lapse)

The lower dam on the river was only a short walk from our camp site. The construction access road was open for pedestrian traffic, and allowed us to get up close and personal with the top of the valley where the dam used to be. There’s still a big berm covered in burlap waiting to grow new vegetation, which looked very industrial, but the river itself is back rolling through the bottom of the valley, cutting out its new path.

Elwha Dam 2013

During our trip we also attempted to get close to the upper dam site, the Glines Canyon Dam, but it was still undergoing deconstruction, and a wide area around the activities were closed to the public. We were able to have a picnic on the river below the Glines Canyon Dam site where the water was rushing past – looking almost like mud.

Below the Glines Canyon Dam

I posted a few more pictures of the Elwha at the T2E3 Facebook Page.

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Energy Storage Options

This month’s Electric Light & Power magazine has an interesting article on Energy Storage, starting on page 58. It’s actually an interview with Edwin Feo, the managing partner of USRG Renewable Finance.

One of the points they make, is that fast energy storage can be used for frequency regulation, to reduce the amount of ramping at power plants. I would be curious if anyone has made a study or has the data to support the heat rate impact their plant is seeing due to increased frequency and speed of ramps – such as those seen to balance wind generation.

This would make a great paper for the ASME Power Conference coming up in July 2012.

If you have another idea for a paper, please let me know. I’m the Paper Coordinator for Track 24 (Simple and Combined Cycles) and am actively looking for additional papers (and/or panel ideas) for our sessions. If your idea doesn’t fit Track 24, I can help you get in touch with the right Track Chair as well.

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GHG Impact of Electric Cars

An interesting article on electric cars and net greenhouse gas emissions (during operation) can be found at

What I don’t see them taking into consideration, is the manufacturing costs of the car. So, as long as you’re comparing the gas-only new car versus an electric version you’re OK. But, I think you’re still better off just running your existing car for another 100k miles, even if it gets pretty poor gas mileage.

The article includes some interesting charts on the regions mix of power generation across the US. I was surprised to see that TVA’s Hydro production does not have an appreciable impact on the SE generation mix. Here in Washington, BPA’s hydro is still the main source of electricity in the region.

Another note of interest was the amount of power still generated with oil in New York and Florida.

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Conservation or Green Generation

There’s a heated debate occuring in a LinkedIn discussion – about where our investment dollars should go – Should they go to Conservation programs or new Clean Generation?

The whole discussion can be found here.

One very interesting item which was shared today – was a press release about a pilot test program by PG&E which installed SmartAC thermostats at 2,000 residences. Results showed that the utility could shave approximately 0.65 kW of load for each residence. Not much you say? When you consider they have 135,000 potential participants in the plan… that can add up to nearly 88 MW of peak load shaved – allowing the utility to avoid construction of new peaking power plants – which sit idle most of the year in anticipation of the next heat wave.

The article shared can be found here.

More about the SmartAC program from PG&E can be found here.

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