Commission Meeting News

Build to last: GE, Chelan PUD team up for innovative rebuild at Rock Island Dam

by Rachel Hansen | May 03, 2021

Chelan PUD and GE Renewable Energy reached an agreement designed to achieve a higher standard of quality and innovation for the modernization at Rock Island Powerhouse II.

The 42-year-old turbines will be rebuilt one by one starting in 2022, with expected completion of all eight in 2030. The cost is estimated at $210 million.

To ensure long-term value and quality, GE and Chelan PUD negotiated an extended correction period, significantly exceeding the standard two-year warranty for hydroelectric turbines.

“We are appreciative that GE has responded to our plea for the hydropower industry to develop longer-term commitments and quality control,” said Steve Wright, general manager at Chelan PUD. “This innovative and important agreement represents our commitment to our customer-owners to strive for best value over the long run. I am grateful to GE and Chelan PUD staff for their creativity and tenacity.” 

As part of the Powerhouse II rehabilitation, Chelan PUD and GE are innovating a more environmentally friendly turbine design. Turbines like the ones in Powerhouse II are traditionally lubricated with oil and safeguarded with trunnion seals. The new design allows the turbines to be filled with oil, water, or air, which gives Chelan PUD the flexibility to use new technologies without compromising the mechanical integrity of the turbine.

“We want to thank Chelan PUD for the collaborative approach their team has promoted in the past two years by working in full transparency, building trust, and defining a common approach towards shared goals,” said Pierre Marx, General Manager GE Hydro Solutions, North America. “As a result we’ve been able to develop a customized solution that meets the needs of Chelan PUD, a project with less risks, more focus on the outcomes, and a path for a successful execution shared by both parties.”

Chelan PUD commissioners approved the purchase Monday of several specialized parts that require a long-lead time to manufacture, including a generator stator, runner hub and wicket gates, from GE Renewable Energy. The board also approved the extended correction period agreement. (starts at 02:27:00 on the board audio)

GE Renewable Energy is a branch of General Electric that has one of the broadest portfolios in the renewable energy industry, including GE’s Hydro Solutions business that specializes in the design and manufacture of hydroelectric turbines and generators.

Rock Island Dam is the second largest of three hydroelectric sites operated by Chelan County PUD.

In other news, commissioners:

  • Heard an update on an energy conservation program designed to engage low-income homeowners. Considered a connection fee waiver for qualified homebuyers working with housing trusts. (01:17:00)
  • Reviewed a status update regarding new development and the PUD’s efforts to meet electrical demand in Chelan County (00:48:00)
  • Heard about a program to protect white sturgeon populations as part of license requirements for Rocky Reach Hydro Project. (02:00:00)


The next PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 17. The public is welcome to attend remotely in accordance with the latest guidance from the state Department of Health.