More industry leaders are recognizing the role of data and technology to keep hydropower competitive as a clean, reliable energy source. Now with the support of New York Power Authority, Hydropower Research Institute has now grown into a data-sharing collective that represents nearly half the nation’s hydroelectric capacity.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced it is joining Chelan PUD and Southern Company on the HRI board, where it will help steer the organization’s path forward. NYPA is the nation’s largest state public power organization with 16 generating facilities, including the Niagara Power Project, New York State’s biggest electricity producer.
“It is critical that we start now in understanding the needs to make our clean energy future a reality,” said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. “Working together we can determine how we can adapt to new relicensing requirements and better prepare for life extension and modernization projects. Sharing best practices, through HRI and similar innovation-minded organizations, will lead to better decisions and a nationwide energy system that is cleaner, more resilient and affordable.”
Quiniones and Chelan PUD General Manager Steve Wright announced the partnership during a Facebook Live event, “Reinvigorating Hydropower: A Coast to Coast Conversation.” The discussion focused on the evolution of hydropower as the cornerstone of a clean, reliable and affordable electrical grid.
Earlier this year, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Department of Energy also joined the collective. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined shortly after HRI was established in 2018. Together, HRI members represent about 44 percent of the nation’s hydroelectric capacity.
“The key for us is to take advantage of new technology through collectively creating big data sets,” Wright said. Utilities nationwide, including Chelan PUD, are investing in sensors that can now collect real-time data from inside an operating turbine. “We can use that to predict problems in advance. We can take what is already the premiere generating resource for grid reliability and make it even more reliable.”
The goal of HRI is to help its members use new technology to optimize operations and reliability. By sharing data and research, its members can predict and prevent disruptions, save money on maintenance, and improve reliability for customers.
“HRI has gained a lot of momentum this year,” said Kirk Hudson, HRI president and Chelan PUD’s managing director of Generation and Transmission. “The more members join HRI, the more data we can analyze to help guide our decisions.”