US$7.2 million rehab completed at Old Lower Plant in Idaho

Old Lower Plant

The Old Lower Plant hydropower facility located on the Snake River in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is again generating power after being offline for the past five years during the completion of US$7.2 million in rehabilitation and upgrades.

The total installed capacity is not immediately available. But, according to the plant’s owner and operator, Idaho Falls Power (IFP), the utility installed two new vertical turbines, rewound the stator, cleaned the rotor and rehabilitated existing equipment.

Commissioned in the 1930s, the city purchased the facility in the 1940s, according to IFP. At that time the facility contained two turbines, each one having a nameplate capacity of 1.87-MW, but IFP added an 8-MW turbine in the 1980s. 

"It's so important to just provide more power and this makes it cheaper for the city of Idaho Falls,” said IFP electrical engineer, John Barksdale. “Also, it's free because it's a hydro plant -- the water that comes in is the water that comes out. We don't have to produce anything to create electricity here. This will add 3.6 MW, which is probably about 3,000 homes -- so that will add quite a bit.”

The repairs are expected to extend the life of the plant at least another 75 years.

IFP has the capability of generating about 55-MW at its four hydropower facilities: City Plant, Upper Plant, Old Lower Plant and Gem State. On average, IFP hydro facilities provide about one-third of the city’s electricity needs.

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