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The importance of maintaining a hydroelectric plant

May 05, 2011
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Hydroelectricity is the most widely used method of receiving renewable energy in North America. Additionally, it is the oldest form of renewable energy, and as a result the plants which generate this imperative source run into many operational problems. From aging infrastructure to simple maintenance management processes, the plants that have become a staple of renewable energy are in need of new methods to keep their resources in good condition.

To ensure that the industry makes smart and necessary changes the Hydro Plant Maintenance and Reliability Conference is being held in Vancouver from June 9-10. In anticipation for this, the Water Technology team spoke with John Mannetti, supervisor of Asset Operations Analysis within the Wind Resources and Asset Management department at Puget Sound Energy, about the most successful methods of implementing maintenance management within a hydroelectric plant.

Within Mannetti’s responsibilities, he has various strategies that help him concentrate on the important parts of his job. John often invests a lot of time on aspects of the business, such as asset management and maintenance management. He also keeps a close eye on real options analysis and technologies that can potentially become viable resources for renewable energy.

There are many methods used to monitor maintenance within a plant, and knowing the most advantageous practices will help a plant dramatically. Mannetti highlights the fact that constant monitoring of the plant’s performance is a number one priority. “Our plants are currently reporting work management key performance indicators on a weekly basis,” says Mannetti. This close monitoring of the plant’s performance allows the process to be trended, which by extension, makes it relatively simple to see the areas of strength within the plant, as well as areas in need of improvement.

Mannetti also explains how a successful management process works to continually improve the structure of hydro maintenance. Again, this comes down to organization with the plant’s operations. “One part of the accomplishment of these objectives was to clarify roles and responsibilities for plant workers, planning staff and plant management and to align expectations around the goal of successfully executing the weekly work schedule,” Mannetti states. Both the new and old equipment must be in the system to ensure that proper plans would be implemented to maintain each area of the plant.

Another slightly more obvious area of importance within the context of successful plant operation and maintenance is the area of the budget. Naturally, a plant can only operate as long as the money coming in is over the costs, which requires a careful eye. The better the plan is for the workers within the plant, the more likely it is that the plant will run with increased reliability. “Also, by maintaining a long range schedule and measuring the backlog of work, the plant manager has more information available to justify resource and budget decisions,” adds Mannetti.

While all of the above is very important to maintaining a plant, Mannetti states that work management process is key to optimizing the use of assets. Work management allows operations of the plant to become easy to identify. This makes it simple for those maintaining the plant to plan and schedule the operations to better meet whatever needs the plant may have in that specific moment. “Work management also forms the foundation on which other, more sophisticated maintenance programs like SRCM or predictive maintenance can be built,” says Mannetti. These predictive maintenance technologies allow integrated systems run with more efficiency and recognize issues or areas in need of improvement with greater efficiency.

Mannetti will be speaking at the marcus evans Hydro Plant Maintenance and Reliability Conference, which is scheduled for June 9-10 in Vancouver. Be sure to attend for more expert input on the importance of hydroelectricity and how to keep hydroelectric plants operating properly.

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