Volume 5 Issue 1 January

Hydro’s Role in the Energy Transition

By Kris Polly

In this month’s cover story, we speak with Chris Mattson, a 28‑year veteran of Tacoma Power who today serves as the utility’s generation manager. The utility provides its customers in and around the city of Tacoma, Washington, with 97 percent clean energy, and it is also working to improve fish passage and fisheries health, encourage conservation, and support decarbonization.

Next, we speak with David Wilson of Switzerland-based WALO about the hydraulic asphalt concrete impermeable barrier systems the company installs on reservoirs, dams, and other facilities using its own custom-built equipment.

The regular replacement of high-voltage coils in generators at hydroelectric facilities provides an excellent opportunity to upgrade the existing installed hydro base, boosting output without the need for construction projects. James Stevens, the CEO of manufacturer Preformed Windings, tells us more.

The HydroWIRES initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office investigates and analyzes the ways in which hydropower can support the grid of the future. We speak with Samuel Bockenhauer, the initiative’s head, about modeling hydro’s role on the grid, the potential for hydro hybrid technology, how hydro can be recognized for its contributions, and more.

Then, we speak with Rebecca Lamb, the program director of the National Energy Education Development Project, which provides free materials and teacher trainings that support classroom instruction about energy.

Finally, we feature a conversation with Paul Kling of kW River Hydroelectric, which has patented a turbine design that can generate power from a low-head dam without requiring modifications to the dam itself. kW River’s environmentally friendly units can be lined up along the entire length of a river, circulating pressurized fluid to generate three-phase alternating current power on shore.

It’s become more and more clear that hydro will be playing a key role in the ambitious energy transition goals many states and regions have in place. That will require quality equipment, new technologies, and sophisticated thinking about how hydro integrates with other energy sources—all of which are in evidence in this month’s issue.

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 kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.