Genesee Waters Roaring Again in RG&E Hydro Tunnel
Rebuilding 2,000’ Tunnel System Key to $111 Million Generating Station Modernization
Rochester, NY – RG&E, a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, announced today that after years of being dry due to reconstruction, it has re-watered the 2,000 foot long power tunnel system that runs 140 feet under the Genesee River and will once again spin its hydroelectric turbines at the Lower Falls.
The tunnel relining project is the centerpiece of a five-year $111 million upgrade and renovation of the RG&E hydroelectric generation Station 5 that began in the Genesee Gorge in Rochester, NY in 2007. “RG&E and Iberdrola USA are committed to investing in sustainable energy,” said Mark S. Lynch, president of RG&E and NYSEG. “That’s why we’re rebuilding this century-old station to provide our customers with green, renewable power for years to come.” The final phases of this project are part of the $1.4 billion investment Iberdrola USA has targeted for infrastructure improvements in New York during the term of the current rate plans for NYSEG and RG&E.
(Click here for graphics.)
New Life for a Century-old Tunnel
The original horseshoe shaped water delivery system was bored through the bedrock under the river in
1916-17 by the Rochester Railway and Light Company, a precursor of Rochester Gas & Electric Co. The tunnel system was dewatered in August 2007 to start the rebuilding project. In the first phase, workers installed circular reinforcing steel through the length of the tunnel and shafts. Working underground and below the river posed some unique challenges. Crews built a “railroad” in the tunnel to move reusable concrete forms into position. To cast each section, a special concrete mix was pumped through a pipe from the shore to an intake shaft located at the center of the river, and then down into the tunnel. After the concrete cured, the forms were rolled along the tracks to the next location and the process was repeated 43 times.
Investing for the Future
Including relining the tunnel, RG&E and Iberdrola USA have invested approximately $111 million dollars in upgrades at the Station 5 powerhouse and the Middle Falls dam & head gates. That rebuilding work is nearly complete and RG&E expects to resume generation there later this month. With its 46 megawatt capability, Station 5 can generate enough clean, renewable hydroelectricity to power more than 30,000 Rochester homes for a year.
Station 5 Re-commissioning Ceremony Planned
The Company plans to commemorate this major rebuilding effort with a formal re-commissioning ceremony at Station 5 in the spring of 2013.
Tunnel Relining Project: by the Numbers (approximate)
130 feet vertical drop of intake shaft
2,000 feet length of tunnel system and penstocks
16 feet finished diameter of horizontal tunnel
140 feet approximate depth of tunnel UNDER the river
1,750 number of permanent rock anchors installed in tunnel
21 feet length of rock anchors
760 tons weight of re-enforcing steel installed in new liner
25 tons weight of each reusable mobile concrete form
5,900 cubic yards volume of concrete used in liner construction
1,000 cubic yards volume of grout pumped into tunnel crown
46 megawatts generating capability of Station 5
219,000,000 annual kilowatt hours of electricity generated at station 5
30,400* number of homes station 5 could power for a year
*based on average consumption of 600 kilowatt hours per home per month
RG&E Hydroelectric Generation Fleet in Rochester
Plant Location Generator Capability
Station 5 Lower Falls, Genesee River, Rochester 46 megawatts
Station 2 High Falls, Genesee River, Rochester 8.5 megawatts
Station 26 Rochester Harbor near Corn Hill, Genesee River, Rochester 3.0 megawatts
More images available
You can find more images of this tunnel relining project as well as photos of all RG&E and NYSEG hydroelectric generation stations on Flickr: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjDcyrzj .