Catawba Dam Valve Will Operate During Bridgewater Hydro Outage March 17, 2011
MORGANTON, N.C. -
Duke Energy plans to open a valve on the Catawba Dam on March 28 to provide additional downstream flow from Lake James when the current Bridgewater Hydro Station temporarily stops operating for construction work.
This will provide added protection to aquatic life and Morganton’s water intake downstream.
The valve, called a “minimum flow valve” (MFV), will continuously send 75 cubic feet per second of water downstream while water cannot be passed through the hydro station. The current hydro station will not operate for about two months as crews work to connect the existing 20-foot water pipe (penstock) to the new hydro station.
“This is a prudent action since our region is expected to continue seeing dry conditions this spring,” said Carol Goolsby, vice president of the hydro fleet. “While this volume of water is small compared to the amount stored in the lake, it will be leaving the valve at high pressure, so residents should be cautious and avoid this area.”
Lake James will begin refilling March 28 based on rainfall and will be operated in its normal operating range this summer. Recent rain increased the lake level to about 89 feet from the 85 feet where Duke Energy had been operating it to perform repair work on the intake structure since early January. Construction crews and divers will continue intake work until March 28.
Duke Energy has posted safety signage and has installed wire cabling to restrict access to the area at the Catawba Dam where the valve will be operating. Sheriff’s deputies will patrol this area periodically while the valve is open.
Once the penstock work is completed by early June, the existing hydro station will go back in service through the summer. In August, Duke Energy will lower the lake to about 95 feet in preparation for a shorter outage to finalize the conversion to the new station. This lake level will have a very minimal impact to recreation. Testing for the new turbines is expected to begin in October.
Lowering the lake prior to both outage periods reduces the risk of spilling if the Lake James area receives significant rainfall. However, without the ability to pass as much water downstream when the station is out of service, there is a possibility of spilling over the Paddy Creek and Catawba Dam spillways.
“We will continue to monitor weather conditions and construction progress and may need to adjust lake levels or the schedule accordingly,” Goolsby said. “Striking the right balance between reducing flood risks for lake residents and not overly impacting recreation is important to us.”
Duke Energy Carolinas owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas and hydroelectric generation. That diverse fuel mix provides approximately 19,000 megawatts of electricity capacity to approximately 2.4 million customers in a 22,000-square-mile service area of North Carolina and South Carolina.
Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 4 million customers located in five states in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 11 million people. Its commercial power and international business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at: www.duke-energy.com.