Farmers Irrigation District began to explore the idea of generating power from irrigation water in the mid 1970s. The elevation changes of the water lines increased the water pressure enough to make conditions ideal for hydrogeneration, and it would create the necessary funds to modernize the system. Plant 1, now decommissioned, was on the Farmers Canal adjacent to Reed Road. It went online in the late 1970s. In 1985, Plant 2 was built on Copper Dam Road, replacing and out-producing Plant 1. Plant 3, a smaller facility on Peter’s Drive, was added in 1987.
Generating electricity from our water systems is now another big part of Farmers Irrigation District daily operations. The two hydroelectric facilities, Plant 2 and Plant 3, create a total kilowatt capacity of 4,800 kilowatts. Both plants consist of the following: generators, turbines, shutoff valves, bypass valves, cooling water systems, hydraulic control devices, oil lubrication systems, programmable logic controllers, and computer interface controls. District generators produce ~25 million kilowatts per year. An average home uses about 1000 kilowatts per month.
Farmers Irrigation District Plant 2 has two generators: a 1000-kilowatt unit and a 2000-kilowatt unit. They are Francis style turbines. A Francis turbine has a runner with fixed vanes, usually nine or more. Francis turbines are used on low to medium elevation sites (10 to 2000ft).
Control panel in plant 2
Two Frances turbines in plant 2
Hydraulic system for plant 2
Farmers Irrigation District Plant 3 has one 1800 kilowatt generator, a Pelton style turbine. A Pelton Turbine has one or more jets of water that impinge on the buckets of a runner which looks like a water wheel. Pelton turbines are used for medium to high elevation sites (50ft. to 6000ft).
Maintenance for this system can be quite labor intensive. The plants receive water via two main pipelines and canal systems. The conveyance systems are inspected daily as they are subject to adverse environmental conditions. Both plants require daily plant checks, switchyard inspections, and annual maintenance programs.
Annual maintenance is separated into two parts: electrical and mechanical.
Electrical maintenance is conducted in August and requires technical equipment and personnel to clean, recalibrate, and measure all electronic devices. These devices include batteries, breakers, relays, transformers, fuses, meters, and generators. Mechanical maintenance is done August through September, and includes inspection of the turbines for wear, hydraulic pump systems (governors), piping, and valve systems.
FID hydroelectric facilities are OR-RPS, CEC, and LIHI certified.