Plant Condition Monitoring

Project ID: 2879
Principal Investigator: Jim DeHaan
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Priority Area Assignments: 2015 (Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation), 2016 (Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2014, 2015 and 2016
Keywords: none

Research Question

How does Reclamation utilize condition monitoring data acquisition systems to reduce its largest expense, operation and maintenance costs, while simultaneously ensuring and enhancing plant sustainability, reliability, and operations?

Need and Benefit

Current O%26M practices, given Reclamation's aging facilities, a deregulated market, the increased demand for additional ancillary services due to the integration of wind power, new NERC/WECC requirements, and today's tight budgets and shrinking staff, are not optimal. Time-based maintenance, in general, is inefficient, labor intensive, and results in some equipment being under maintained. Predictive maintenance has been ineffective due to the overwhelming volume of data to be monitored and the inability to condense this data into meaningful output. This research effort seeks to reduce O%26M costs, increase plant availability, and preserve Reclamation's infrastructure by providing current and relevant information on the present condition of plant equipment. This is accomplished by the in-house development of an all-inclusive hydro plant condition monitoring system.

The initial version of this system is presently installed on over a dozen generators at various Reclamation power plants. Several more sites have either scheduled or are considering adding this system. The near term goal is to cover about ½ of Reclamation generators. Field personnel from the initial installations have provided valuable feedback to improve the system. Several improvements have also been identified that will make the system easier to use and improve computer security. These improvements are being implemented in a second version of the software.

This project has already shown that it can meet the needs at our power plant facilities. It has provided a great platform to implement generator vibration monitoring which was recommended in Power Equipment Bulletin (PEB) 42. Several plants have already expanded its use to include monitoring for rough zone, monitoring power system transients, and monitoring and trending exciter operation. The flexibility and expandability of the PCM system allows it to meet both current and future plant monitoring needs. A substantial investment of over $300k has been made in this system thus far and additional funds will help with needed improvements and to complete version 2 of the software.

A secondary benefit is this system can lower cost by reducing field office and TSC travel. The TSC provides hydropower technical support for Reclamation facilities which often requires travel to the power plant to gather data. By enhancing the remote monitoring of data the plant condition monitoring system provides us with the opportunity to collect at least some of this data remotely and to collect data over a long period of time. This will reduce the need for TSC personnel travel to our facilities.

This project will not only benefit Reclamation, but will benefit the hydropower industry as a whole as we have already shared the program with other federal agencies and also plan to make it available to private sector utilities, maximizing the return on the investment.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Keeping Track of the Generator's Condition (final, PDF, 520KB)
By Jim DeHaan
Publication completed on September 30, 2014

This bulletin summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

Signal to Noise: Analyzing Generator Performance and Reliability (final, PDF, 540KB)
By Jim DeHaan
Publication completed on September 30, 2014

This bulletin summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

Plant Condition Monitoring (final, PDF, 171KB)
By Jim DeHaan
Publication completed on September 30, 2016

Previous research in plant condition monitoring produced a system which quantifies generator operation characteristics. This system has helped Reclamation facilities better predict maintenance requirements; avoiding several million dollars of unnecessary, unscheduled outage costs. This research effort focused on making the system more reliable and easier to use by reworking the system software and creating a standardized operations and maintenance manual.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20