Powering up an existing dam
Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) was seeking a way to add hydroelectric power to the existing US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Red Rock Dam on the Des Moines River near Pella, Iowa. The 110-foot-high, 6,260-foot-long dam was originally constructed in the 1960s for flood control and recreation purposes.
The project seemed straightforward—punch a hole in a perfectly good dam and use water coming through to power generators to make electricity. However, some challenges arose as the project went on. As the owner’s engineer and designer of record for the new hydroelectric project, we were there from start to finish.
The conversion itself required extensive water and earth-retention systems to maintain the integrity of the existing flood control dam, including excavations up to 70 feet (21 metres) deep on the upstream and downstream sides of the existing dam and modifications to convey water from the reservoir to a new powerhouse.
The new powerhouse features two identical vertical Kaplan turbine-generators rated at 28 megawatts each. During a conceptual project review, our team evaluated the layout the original developer had included in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license application. Based on this review, we revised the layout to address constructability issues and improve project performance.
The result? A hydroelectric dam that will provide clean, renewable power for the next 100 years.
At a Glance
- Missouri River Energy Services
- Power Magazine, Top Plant Awards, 2021
- Deep Foundations Institute, Outstanding Project Award, 2021
- Post Tensioning Institute, Award of Merit, 2021
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