STOCKTON — Stockton Dam in southwest Missouri is expected to begin generating hydroelectric power by early June after repairs were made to its turbine blades, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official said.
In 2009, one of the turbine blades at the dam broke, sending vibrations through the dam's powerhouse. The blade was recovered from the lake and welded back on and put back into service, but it was always considered only a temporary fix, The Springfield News-Leader reported.
A week ago, the last of seven curved blades — each weighing 17,200 pounds — was successfully attached to a giant metal hub in what was the first major upgrade to the hydroelectric system since it went into operation in 1973, said Rod Hendricks, operations project manager of the Army Corps dam at Stockton Lake.
The reconditioned unit will generate up to 52 megawatts of power, compared with 45 megawatts from the older unit. It also will use less water because it has seven car-sized blades instead of six.
The project cost an estimated $30.8 million, and the Southwest Power Administration provided another $6 million to improve the plant's ability to handle the increased power generation. The corps said the hydropower dam will generate about $8.3 million worth of electricity annually.
When the project is completed, water from Stockton Lake will flow down onto the turbine blades, causing it to spin. The blade angles are positioned to spin the electrical generator at a steady 75 revolutions per minute, said Megan Nesbitt, Voith site manager in charge of the project.
The old turbine now sits on a gigantic pedestal above the highway that takes visitors across the top of the dam.
Hendricks said informational plaques will be added to explain how water is used to generate electricity and the unusual reason the original turbine had to be removed.
"People flip a switch and don't really think about what all goes into making that electricity," Hendricks said. "In a dam like this, the public can't see the turbine when it's down in the hole inside. We think this display will help teach people about hydropower generation."