American Municipal Power

Operational Excellence

Safety Excellence

Summary

American Municipal Power Inc. (AMP), a wholesale power supply and member services organization, serves 129 municipal electric system members in six states. One of AMP’s baseload assets includes the 42 MW Belleville Hydroelectric Plant/Omega JV5. This run-of-the-river facility located on the Ohio River near Belleville, WV, is owned by 42 participating member communities through the Ohio Municipal Electric Generation Agency Joint Venture. In 2009, the plant reached its 10-year anniversary and through November 2009 the plant personnel had accumulated over 150,000 person- hours without a lost-time injury or reportable incident.

This milestone was achieved despite the fact that hydropower was new to AMP when the Belleville plant was commissioned in 1999. The safety excellence accomplishment represents the long-term achievement of the plant personnel.

Background

In 1999, the Belleville Hydroelectric Plant project became the first hydroelectric plant commissioned in more than a decade on the Ohio River. This facility has two, horizontal shaft bulb turbine generators and many recreational facilities visited by some 10,000 people annually. In 2009, the Belleville Hydroelectric Plant celebrated its 10-year operational anniversary. One of the most notable achievements during this first decade of operation is the safety record achieved by the plant operators. There are six full time plant employees, one of which is a working supervisor. The employees are responsible for plant operations, plant maintenance and up-keep of the recreational facilities.

Challenge

Prior to the Belleville plant initial start-up, most of the plant personnel hired had very little power generation background, and no experience with hydroelectric generation. The current plant operators are the original six employees, hired before the plant’s 1999 commissioning. Operators perform day-to-day operating duties as well as routine and major maintenance of equipment and recreational facilities. The challenge was to create a cooperative working environment that promotes safety, while training plant operators on the operation and maintenance of the plant’s components and systems.

AMP’s Belleville Hydroelectric Plant is unique because this manned facility operates 24-hours a day. Since this is the only hydroelectric plant currently operated by AMP, the safety and training program had to be created from scratch.

Some of the major maintenance and repair activities performed to date by plant employees include:

  • Removed the emergency closure gate from service. Plant personnel disconnected and pulled the corroded and leaking shaft from the gate for repair.
  • Replaced all 16 wicket gate bearings that had worn and corroded seals.
  • Replaced unit 2 draft tube discharge ring seal to prevent water leaking in the plant.
  • Upgraded log grabber from gas engine operation to electric.
  • Removed and repaired trash rake hydraulic cylinders.
  • Completed several other repairs to the recreational facilities.

Due to the magnitude and duration of these tasks, the risk of injury was increased and emphasis on safety was required above and beyond that needed for day-to-day plant operation.

Innovation

Once hired, an initial assessment of talents and capabilities of plant operators was performed to identify areas where individuals could excel. The plant’s operations and maintenance supervisor was hired from the United States Army Corps of Engineers after more than 30 years working on the Ohio River. Relying on his experience, and a multitude of additional resources, a training manual and safety program were developed for the plant. A key part of the program involves plant operators. A safety officer is selected, on a rotating basis, from plant employees. This individual schedules and leads regular safety meetings with the other employees, along with periodic safety audits of procedures and policies. When specific tasks or work assignments require more than one person, these are scheduled during times when the work shifts overlap. Often, plant operators work alone in the plant, which takes special consideration to avoid accidents.

Results

The plant reached its 10-year operating anniversary in 2009. Between the six plant employees, over 150,000 person-hours were worked through November 2009 without a lost time accident. The plant employees have now proven to be experts in their field. As AMP undertakes construction of new hydroelectric projects, it notes with pride that the staff and employees working at the Belleville Hydroelectric Plant have set the bar high for the operators of these future plants.

Stakeholder Quotes

“While 2008 again presented challenges for the operation of the Ohio Municipal Electric Generation Agency Joint Venture 5 (OMEGA JV5) Belleville Hydroelectric Plant, the facility continued to provide a solid source of efficient, renewable energy for much of the year. Production was up from the levels achieved in 2007, although again limited by high river flow conditions in late winter and low river flow conditions in late summer and into fall. Plant operators were able to offset this to some degree by holding non-flow-related derates-the time that a unit is offline not attributed to river flow conditions-to just 0.56 percent of the total, a very good result. Much of this can be attributed to the dedicated workforce operating the Belleville facility. Each of the six full-time staff members at Belleville was recognized in 2008 for 10 years of service to OMEGA JV5; all have been with the plant since the first day it came on line and began producing electricity. The OMEGA JV5 Belleville Hydroelectric Plant provides a blueprint for the successful operation of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric plant.” — Mayor Don Robart, Cuyahoga Falls, Chairman, OMEGA JV5