Alcoa starts Cheoah Dam Modernization Project

Pittsburgh, August 27, 2010 — Alcoa kicked off a $110 million modernization project at Cheoah Dam, one of four hydroelectric dams that make up Alcoa Power Generating Inc.’s Tapoco Project.

The modernization effort will increase the dam’s efficiency and energy output and increase the life of the dam by at least another 40-50 years.

Hydropower is clean, renewable, reliable and efficient,” said Rick Bowen, Alcoa Energy President. “These attributes equal sustainability — sustainable energy and sustainable jobs. That’s why we are looking forward to replacing the four 90-year-old Francis turbines with four new high-efficiency turbines, generators, and transformers which will provide an additional 22 MW of generating capacity at APGI’s Tapoco Cheoah plant.”

Alcoa Energy is a global producer, controlling nearly 3,000 MW of generating capacity to provide for the energy needs of Alcoa’s worldwide smelting and refining system as well as the needs of regional wholesale markets. The business includes Alcoa Power Generating Inc., which owns and manages the 360-MW Tapoco system.

The modernization project was given a jump start when the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would award Alcoa a $12.95 million grant as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This project will boost four turbines’ generating capacity by 28 percent. Alcoa is investing $110 million in the project.

The first phase of the modernization project will include the upgrade of two of the dam’s five power generation units. Specifically, first phase objectives for this DOE cost-shared project are to purchase four new high-efficiency turbines, generators, and transformers, upgrade the balance of plant equipment, and complete installation of two units.

Another two units will be upgraded during phase two of the project and will increase Cheoah’s total capacity to 140 MW and add 40 to 50 years of expected useful life to the facility without requiring any modifications to the dam and without any significant regulatory delay.

In total the site has 5 units. Unit 5 was built in 1949 and the generator was rebuilt in 1995. Unit 5 is a 30 MW unit and does not require replacement.

Construction began on Cheoah Dam in 1916 and was completed in 1919. At the time of completion, Cheoah was the world’s highest overflow dam at 225 feet.

The dam was made famous by serving as the backdrop of the jump scene in the 1993 major motion picture, “The Fugitive,” starring Harrison Ford.

 

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