Farmers Irrigation District strives to promote ecologically, socially, and economically
sustainable agriculture by providing energy and irrigation service for the common good
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 4,400 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.
In 2015, Farmers Irrigation District replaced two 30-year-old Francis style turbines with a total maximum nameplate capacity of 3 megawatts with a single Gilkes Turgo style turbine with a maximum nameplate capacity of 2.6 megawatts. While the nameplate capacity is less, the total annual generation for the plant was projected to increase 12.4 percent due to greater operational efficiencies through the entire flow range.
The Gilkes Turgo turbine was the preferred technology for the repowering project due to its proven ability to perform in systems with a wide flow range and aggressive water (water with high levels of abrasive silt). Historically the aggressive water caused excessive wear on the Francis style turbines, decreasing efficiency rapidly and causing expensive down time and maintenance.
The repowering project also included complete replacement of the controls, the High-Pressure Unit (HPU), and the Main Unit Breaker (MUB) as well as some switchyard upgrades including an entirely new transformer.
The installation was completed late in September of 2015 and has been operating nearly continuously since. Local contractors were utilized for the construction project including Crestline Construction, Schuepbach Builders and Custom Concrete, and Hage Electric. The Turgo unit has exceeded the projected efficiency curves and has proven to be as reliable as promised by the manufacturer. This repowered facility will serve the District and the residents of Hood River County with reliable, Low Impact Hydro Institute certified power for generations to come.
Control panel in plant 2
Gilkes Turgo turbine 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.