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Collins Hydro Electric LP

Collins Const. Copy.jpg (23966 bytes) 
Collins Hydro project: setting the draft-tubes during construction

The 1,480 KW Collins hydro project located on the Chicopee River between the towns of Ludlow and Wilbraham, Massachusetts is an example of constructive reuse of a low-head, breached mill dam.  Swift River Company searched around among Europe's most innovative turbine manufacturers and selected 2 ESAC bulb turbines designed and built in France.  The advantage of the bulb for the Collins site is that no powerhouse is required, controls and switchgear are located in a small house well above the river flood level and therefore the full crest length of the dam is available to spill water in case of flood flows. 

The site was hard to permit because residential property was located in the flood plain above the dam after the dam was breached.  However, by using the existing forebay as an additional spillway on the right side of the river and also designing three 4 foot high sections of hinged flashboards that are lowered during floods, the site was approved by the local conservation commission, dam safety agencies of the state government and by the federal fish, wildlife and environmental agencies.   Collins has operated for 17 years well above its design production level and has had very few days lost to unplanned outages.

Key Benefits

Bulb turbines where both the turbine and generator are housed under the water behind the dam were ideal for this application because:    

  • the ESAC equipment was delivered pre-assembled and aligned in the bulb so no powerhouse is required and installation time is 20% of the conventional powerhouse,

Installing ESAC Bulb Turbines.jpg (18577 bytes)

  • the bulb can be lifted in with a crane and anchored inexpensively in the dam structure without reducing the dam crest length required to pass floods,
  • the ESAC full Kaplan turbine is very efficient over the full range of flows found in the Chicopee River, operating on a float control following the discharge rates of ConEdison's Red Bridge powerplant one mile upstream.

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Bulb turbines located in dam with 3 sections of hinged flashboards

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