Safety, Strategy, and Specialization

By Kris Polly

Hydropower facilities use technology to serve society. These specialized facilities—with their myriad specialized subcomponents—not only provide power for immediate use, they also provide community-shaping recreation opportunities and allow for long-term planning. To enable their success, hydropower professionals focus on making sure that facilities operate safely, fit into a greater strategy, and continually improve through specialized technology. 

Beginning with a highly successful line of debris control barriers, Worthington Products has branched out into physical fish guidance systems, security barriers, and public safety signs for dams. In our cover interview, Worthington President and CEO Paul Meeks tells us about the increasing focus on public safety around dams, how his company designed its own highly effective signs, and the prospects for sign standardization across the United States. 

Ontario Power Generation (OPG), a major power producer based in Ontario, Canada, is planning for the future by expanding into the United States, introducing new technology, upgrading existing infrastructure, and embracing electrification, all aiming at meeting a climate change strategy of being net zero by 2040. Nicolle Butcher, OPG’s senior vice president for renewable generation and power marketing, tells us more. 

We also speak with representatives of three specialty manufacturers who make products for the hydropower industry. Mike Dupuis of Hydro Tech, Inc., tells us about his company’s main business, turbine and generator overhauls, as well as its offerings of oil- and water-lubricated bearings and its research into water bearings for cargo ships and hydroelectric turbines. Ryan Edmonds of Thordon Bearings tells us about the company’s high-performance oil- and grease-free bearing systems, seals, and other shaft line products. And Robert McDole and Cody Veach of Hendrick Screen Company tell us about the company’s fish diversion and water intake screens, airburst cleaning systems, guiderails, and other products. 

Finally, Diane Lear of the National Hydropower Association updates us on the upcoming Clean Currents conference, which will be held in October in Atlanta. After a year and a half in which most conferences have been canceled or virtual only, Clean Currents promises to be a homecoming for the entire hydro industry. 

By continually advancing their facilities’ safety, strategy, and specialization, hydropower professionals are ensuring that hydropower will play a pivotal role in the U.S. energy landscape for decades to come. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at