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Hoover Powerplant

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Boulder Canyon Project - Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam
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Hoover Powerplant Performance (pdf)
RegionFacilities in Lower Colorado | Lower Colorado Home Page
StateArizona and Nevada
RiverColorado River
PurposeThe primary purpose of the electrical powerplant as a project feature is to generate revenue sufficient to repay the project construction monies advanced by the United States Treasury and to annually fund ongoing operation maintenance and replacement expenses.
PurposeThe capacity and operational flexibility of the plant also significantly contribute to the stability and reliability of the California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico electrical grid. The massive rotating inertia of the generation plant at Hoover provides an unusually high ability to sustain system integrity during moderate to severe system disturbances.
PurposeThe plant contains the unique ability to black start a main 130 MW unit without the benefit of an external system feed. This means the plant can act as a synchronizing source for the rest of the system in the event of a system separation.
PurposeThe plant acts as a primary source of spinning and non-spinning reserves for the service area. The electrical integration and interconnection of Davis, Hoover, and Parker Powerplants provide maximum generation of power with efficient use of water resources.
PurposeThe highly developed agricultural base and the complex industrialization of the Pacific southwest benefit greatly from Colorado River hydroelectric energy.
FactsThe powerplant consists of 17 main Francis turbine generators and two Pelton Waterwheel station service units (one for each plant wing). The total plant capacity is 2,079 MW.
FactsHoover Dam is a concrete thick-arch structure, 726.4 feet high and 1,244 feet long at the crest. The dam and appurtenant structures contain 4.4 million cubic yards of concrete. Hoover Dam and Powerplant was the first major concrete thick-arch dam constructed by Reclamation. Water for generation is conveyed through four penstocks from four intake structures immediately upstream and contiguous to the dam. Spillway structures use eight 16 foot by 100 foot drum gates which provide for an additional 16 vertical feet of storage capacity in Lake Mead, the reservoir impounded upstream of the dam. Lake Mead is the largest Reservoir in the United States with a total storage capacity of 29.8 million acre-feet.
HistoryThe plant was authorized as a Boulder Canyon Project feature (the Act also provided for All American Canal construction) and was a requisite requirement for the Seven State Compact ratification. The first unit to be placed in serve was A0 on August 31, 1936. The last unit to be commercially commissioned was N8 on December 1, 1961. There were eleven commercially available units by 1939. The plant was operated by Southern California Edison and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power under the supervision of the Bureau of Reclamation until 1987. That was the termination of the original 50-year electric service contracts. Reclamation assumed control of operation and maintenance in 1987.
HistoryThe Boulder Canyon Project Adjustment Act of 1940 authorized the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate and implement charges for electrical energy generated at Hoover Powerplant. This Act further specified how the revenues resulting from Hoover energy sales were to be applied. The Hoover Powerplant Act of 1984 authorized the uprating of the 17 main generating units and the construction of additional visitor facilities and parking structures and the Hoover Dam bypass bridge. It also changed the funding source from Congressional Appropriations to an Available Receipts Fund (a quasi-revolving fund). The uprating of the units was accomplished through non-Federal funds advanced by 11 power customers.
HistoryThe dam was originally designated as Hoover Dam by instructions of the Secretary of the Interior dated September 17, 1930. The dam was redesignated Boulder Dam by order of the Secretary dated May 8, 1933. The name Hoover Dam was restored by the Act of April 30, 1947, 61 Stat. 56.
Present ActivitiesThe upper Nevada (NV) penstock tie-rod test was completed with assistance from Denver personnel. The penstock interior was spot coated and the butterfly valve seals were replaced on all of the upper NV unit lateral penstocks. The entire inside of the pipe (elbow, main, and all four laterals) was spot repaired, along with the inside face of the lower 9-foot cylinder gate. This work was also completed in the past few years.
Present ActivitiesCurrently overhauling the 2300 volt station service breakers and 17 of 38 such breakers have been overhauled. Electrical board functional relay testing is ongoing. Arc flash analysis is also ongoing with assistance from Denver personnel.
Present ActivitiesMajor piping replacements were completed on both units N2 and N6. In the Arizona 2nd floor pipe gallery, the 400 feet of 6-inch fire main was replaced. The unit N2 cooling water eductor system was also replaced. Extensive painting of all powerhouses piping is ongoing.
Present ActivitiesThe installation of the emergency roadway barriers for the top of dam highway was completed. The relocation of the Nevada checkpoint moving it to 400 feet closer to the dam to accommodate the new road construction for the Hoover Dam Bypass was completed.
Present ActivitiesAdditional work items which address present activities are:
Present Activities1. The emergency closure test for the upstream cylinder gates was completed in September 2003 confirming that the upper cylinder gate on any penstock at Hoover Dam provides a viable emergency shutoff.
Present Activities2. In October 2003 re-insulation of the thrust bearing systems for units A8, A9, N2, and N3 were completed. The new insulation systems prevent circulating currents to ground which travel through the bearing surface. Units A8, A9, and N3 had high levels of circulating currents. N3 had old micarta insulation which is known to lose insulation value after many years. This work is part of an ongoing effort to eliminate all potential causes of thrust bearing failures at Hoover Dam.
Present Activities3. The thrust bearing shim pack on the thrust bearing of A8 was replaced due to complete deterioration of a shim in the shim pack. When A8 was disassembled to eliminate high levels of thrust bearing circulating currents, portions of a shim were missing which gave evidence of mechanical `working` of the components. This work is part of an ongoing effort to eliminate all potential causes of thrust bearing failures at Hoover Dam.
Present Activities4. One hundred percent coating removal and re-coating of N2 and N6 scroll cases stay vanes, and wicket gates were completed. A small improvement in efficiency will result from this work.
Present Activities5. A contract was awarded with the Western Area Power Administration to replace 230 KV disconnect A781 on the roof of the Arizona Powerhouse.
Present Activities6. Additional fall protection cables were added at exposed areas such as main bridge cranes, the cableway tail tower, and access ladders.
Present Activities7. Topographic maps of downstream river channel between the dam and the spillway discharge area was completed.
Present Activities8. Visitor Center`s security barrier at plaza was completed.
Future Planned ActivitiesElevator hoist ropes on 4 elevators (E1, E2, E5, and E6) will be replaced.
Future Planned ActivitiesThe Arizona penstock lighting contract was awarded which will result in the replacement of the upper and lower AZ penstock lighting systems. Upper AZ will have all new lighting systems was completed in 2004 followed by Lower AZ work completed in January 31, 2005.
Future Planned ActivitiesThe contract for the replacement of the station service transformers was awarded and the work was completed in the summer of 2004.
Future Planned ActivitiesThe contract for scanning and indexing 36,000 drawings and 43,000 documents has been completed.
Future Planned ActivitiesThe contract to repair the 150-ton cableway slack carrier systemswas completed in September 2004.
Future Planned ActivitiesDuring the 2004-2005 maintenance season the upper AZ lateral penstock butterfly seals were replaced. This completed the seal replacements of all butterfly valves.
Future Planned ActivitiesThe A8 eductor was replaced in FY 2005. The unit A1 major overhaul was completed in FY 2005.
Future Planned ActivitiesThe interior painting of the upper AZ penstock occurred during the 2004-2005 penstock outages.
Special IssuesHoover Powerplant generators are primarily used for providing a low-cost peaking resource and regulation. Hoover is not a sole source supplier. Contractual arrangements with the power customers provide for Hoover power to be used for ramping, regulating, and reserves.
Special IssuesThe demand for Hoover power generation is seasonal, with the winter months as the low-demand period. Hoover's maintenance period is from October through May. Normally Hoover has one unit down for a major overhaul during this time with several weekly outages on other units. Since the penstocks are on a five year maintenance schedule quite often one or more penstocks are taken out per maintenance period. Because four generators are normally supplied from each penstock, when the penstock is out of service, so are four generators.
Special IssuesWhen not releasing for flood control purposes, Hoover generation is a direct function of downstream water demands. Power production is ancillary to flood control, navigation, and irrigation water delivery.
Special IssuesHoover dam electrical capacity has been reduced due to the on-going drought and decreased lake elevations.
NERC RegionWestern Electricity Coordinating Council
PMA Service AreaWestern Area Power Administration, Desert Southwest Region
Plant TypeConventional
Powerhouse TypeAbove Ground
Turbine TypeFrancis
Original Nameplate Capacity1,344,800 kW
Installed Capacity2,078,800 kW
Year of Initial Operation1936
Age71 years
Net Generation3,806,934,845kWh
(Fiscal Year)2007
Rated Head576 ft
Plant Factor21 percent
(Fiscal Year)2007
Production ModeIntermediate
Remotely OperatedNo
Project AuthorizationThe project was authorized by the Boulder Canyon Project Act of December 21, 1928 (45 Stat. 1057), subject to the terms of the Colorado River Compact. The Boulder Canyon Project Adjustment Act (54 Stat. 774), dated July 19, 1940, provided for certain changes to the original plan. The Hoover Powerplant Act of 1984 (98 Stat. 1333) provided for the uprating of the generators and the construction of new visitor facilities.
Project PurposeHoover Dam and powerplant was constructed for the purposes of controlling Colorado River floods, improving navigation and regulating the flow of the Colorado River, providing for storage and for the delivery of the stored waters thereof for reclamation of public lands and other beneficial uses exclusively within the United States, and generation of electrical energy as a means of making the project authorized a self-supporting and financially solvent undertaking.
Project PurposeFloodwaters of the Colorado River are impounded by Hoover Dam and released in response to downstream water orders. The quantity of water available for release through the powerplant is, in part, based upon the water orders. In a hydrologically normal year, 7.5 million acre feet are allotted among the lower basin States (.3 to Nevada, 2.8 to Arizona, and 4.4 to California) with an additional 1.5 million acre feet allotted to Mexico and system losses
First nameKen
Last nameRice
TitleArea Manager
Phone (Fax)702 494-2812
Phone (Individual)702 494-2302

Last updated: Nov 19, 2009