ALMOST 50 YEARS OLD
In Canada, where most of the hydropower plants were commissioned in the 1970’s, GE Renewable Energy is actively helping to give a second life to some power stations from the smallest fix to complete refurbishments.
GE has opened two hydro service platforms in North America. One is located in Granby, Southwestern Québec. It is a one-stop shop where customers can find engineers experienced in assessing problems and providing solutions that match customers’ needs. The Granby team has put in place a 24h hotline for customers and, depending on the problem, the Granby Field Service Center sends an intervention team to site either to repair the equipment or to provide a diagnostic assessment of the fault.
A 007 STYLE INTERVENTION
For example last winter, a Granby-based GE Renewable Energy engineer was sent to the Lac Robertson Hydropower plant. The speed governors of the plant’s two units needed repairing. He packed a bag and food for a week. After travelling by helicopter and snowmobile, he finally arrived on site. Lac Robertson is quite isolated, which explains the 007 style of the intervention. “It was an amazing experience” the engineer says when he talks about the full week he spent at Lac Robertson evaluating what work needed to be done. In three months, the GE team carried out the engineering, manufacturing and testing of the replacement speed governors. The two new parts are currently being installed at Lac Robertson hydropower plant by GE Renewable Energy’s customer, who appreciated the Granby team’s prompt response.
SMALL IS BIG
In the first quarter of 2016, GE began a project to replace eight runners and carry out the rewinding of seven units at the 8 x 1.5 MW Fort Frances Hydropower plant in Ontario, Canada/Minnesota, USA. This project illustrates both GE Renewable Energy’s capabilities and wish to further develop its small hydro platform.
OUR CUSTOMERS DETERMINE OUR SUCCESS
The city of Monroe in Washington State, USA, is the home of the second GE Renewable Energy Service platform, which opened a few months ago. The phone rings with new requests every week. “Whether a customer calls for a small technical issue or for a larger repair, we treat each request with the same sense of urgency,” says Patrick Baudin, North America Leader for GE Renewable Energy’s Hydro solutions. Opening a service shop in Monroe was a strategic choice for GE. Washington State, Idaho, Oregon and Montana make up to 50% of the US’s hydropower capacity.
For GE, ensuring that its customers - or any power plant operator for that matter - know that field service or plant support is available for them is a priority. Granby and Monroe do not only provide services, they can also provide digital improvement solutions, such as governors or control systems, to maintain or enhance the operational efficiency of the equipment.