Dakota County recently awarded Voith Hydro North America with a contract to replace 100-year-old power-generating turbines at Lake Byllesby Dam. The water-to-wire contract, which provides the power supplier with Kaplan turbines and other powerhouse components, is expected to increase the facility’s annual energy production by 75 percent.
“The Kaplan turbines provided by Voith will replace our existing Francis units, which were installed around the time of the dam’s construction in 1910. We are eager to install the new equipment from Voith so we can achieve a substantial increase in renewable energy and better provide for our community,” said Josh Petersen, senior water resources engineer with Dakota County Environmental Resources, in a press release.
Currently, Lake Byllesby Dam generates enough electricity to power 2,400 homes annually. The redevelopment project, which is expected to be completed in spring 2021, will supply energy for another 1,800 homes annually.
“The key to increasing the energy output so significantly is by improving the capture of water flow through modernizing,” said Stanley J. Kocon, president and CEO, Voith Hydro North America. “For Lake Byllesby Dam and many other sites around North America, modernization of operations and equipment is the most cost-effective option to increase energy output. Working with the Lake Byllesby team, Voith was able to develop an upgrade plan that will benefit the entire … region.”
The contract calls for the company to provide two new double-regulated, 2.25 megawatt Z-Turbines (commonly also known as Saxo-Type); new controls; generators; and other components that will modernize the small hydro facility as well as improve reliability while reducing operations and maintenance costs. Previous projects at Lake Byllesby Dam — in 2007 and 2015-16 — improved the site’s safety, operations and structural aspects, but this is the first time in the facility’s history that efficiency and energy production will be addressed. The dam is also located close to Lake Byllesby Regional Park which offers a variety of recreational activities for residents such as picnic facilities, event spaces and sports fields.
“With this redevelopment project, the combined plant efficiency will reach 91.3 percent,” said Daniel Olson, sales project manager U.S., Voith Hydro North America. “Our plan for Lake Byllesby Dam features a proven and efficient hydraulic design, efficient generators and double-regulated turbines to match the flow characteristics at the site.”