Project Location: Orem, Utah
Client: Central Utah Water Conservancy District
Synopsis of work:
After running continuously for 111 years, Olmsted Hydro Power Plant at the mouth of Provo Canyon went off line for the last time in the fall of 2015. Ames crews mobilized to the site a year later to replace the historic facility with a new hydroelectric plant located adjacent to the old one. The new system will achieve a broader mission of power generation and regional water conservation.
More than 100 years ago, a unique campus was built at the mouth of Provo Canyon. The Olmsted Hydroelectric Power Plant was on the cutting edge of developing alternating current generation and transmission-a vision for the future introduced by Lucien L. Nunn. In 2014, the Department of the Interior began planning to replace Olmsted with a new hydroelectric facility and the power plant went off line in September of 2015. Ames Construction crews mobilized to the site in September of 2016 to replace the historic facility with a new hydroelectric power plant constructed adjacent to the old one.
To supply water for the power plant, crews installed massive steel pipe in an existing 850-foot-long rock tunnel, with the confined space presenting unique challenges. A steel pipe carrier with railroad wheels was fabricated and Ames installed railroad rail so the pipe-loaded carrier could be pushed into the tunnel using a Bobcat skid-steer loader. To maintain air quality, an extensive ventilation system was installed in the tunnel, and an attendant was stationed outside to monitor the air constantly. After the piping was installed, crews erected a bulkhead at the tunnel opening and cellular grout was injected into the space around the pipe.
As Ames completed demolition of the existing pressure box structure at the opening of the tunnel, construction of the new surge tank began. Crews also continue installation of the steel pipe penstock up a steep slope from the new power plant building, which they have been constructing since November 2016, and work continues on the extensive concrete foundations, walls, and suspended decks for the power plant building.
Completed work includes setting the turbines and generators that will ultimately create the power for the plant, structural construction of buildings, architectural finishes, mechanical, electrical and instrumentation, along with the tailrace discharge box culvert and micro hydro discharge into the Provo River. The water source piping has also been completed, which includes cement mortar lining of an existing 102" diameter pipeline and a new cliff spillway structure.
The power plant is scheduled to be operational by July 2018. Upon completion, the new power plant will have the capacity to generate approximately 12 MW of power per hour, or enough power to supply nearly 3,000 homes.
Iconic to Utah's history for more than 100 years, the Olmsted Hydroelectric Power Plant will continue to be part of Utah's future. The building, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places, will not be demolished and discussions continue for its future use.