Volume 5 Issue 2 February

What the Hydro Industry Needs to Know About AI

By Kris Polly

The terms artificial intelligence and machine learning seem more and more common every day—but what exactly do they mean, and what do these technologies mean for the hydro industry? To learn more, we speak with Buddy Lee, who serves as an artificial intelligence subject matter expert at Mesa Associates.

As part of its effort to relicense the Catawba-Wateree Project, which includes 12 hydropower stations and 11 reservoirs along the Catawba River, Duke Energy was required to guarantee environmental and recreational flows downstream of a dam near Great Falls, South Carolina. As we hear from the manager of the project, Tim Huffman, the creative, consultation-based solution includes exciting features, such as a safe-boater bypass that can be used by canoers and kayakers, a new state park, trails, and more.

Today, a team of six women runs the Bonneville Power Administration’s Power Services Department as it helps lead the Pacific Northwest toward a clean energy future. Our profile of these six impressive professionals highlights their backgrounds, their current roles, and how they plan to deploy their experience and expertise as the region’s power markets evolve.

Superior-Lidgerwood-Mundy (SLM) was created when three manufacturing companies were merged in 1947, but its predecessors date back to the late 19th century. One piece of SLM’s fascinating heritage is that Lidgerwood Manufacturing built cableways to assist in the construction of Hoover Dam as well as a massive 150‑ton cableway that is still in operation. In fact, SLM has recently been asked to rehabilitate it.

Linita is a manufacturer of gates, hoists, and hydromechanical equipment for the hydro industry. In addition to providing equipment for dams across the country, it has recently supplied gates for New York City’s $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. Chief Operating Officer Sean Greenhouse tells us more.

Jenkins Electric is a third-generation family business that has been going strong in the Southeast since 1907. We speak with President Iain Jenkins about the company’s work with testing, maintaining, and rewinding hydropower generators, designing and integrating hydro plant control systems, and more.

One of the exciting things about the hydropower industry is its combination of venerable history and cutting-edge innovation. The industry has companies, technologies, and structures that date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries but also always seeks out the newest advances and pushes into the future.

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.