by Christina Kauffman
Hydro power is promoted as a more environmentally friendly alternative to other means of generating electricity, but there is at least one drawback: the fish. They can get pinched and die in the turbines as water flows.
But engineers at West Manchester Township's Voith Hydro are working on a fish-friendly alternative design expected to allow fish to pass through unharmed.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Voith Hydro Inc. a $10.9 million contract to design and supply two advanced fish-friendly turbines to replace the existing units at the Ice Harbor hydroelectric project on the lower Snake River in Washington state.
The company has provided other fish-friendly designs in recent years -- one for the Corps of Engineers in Bonneville, Ore., and another at Wanapum Dam in Washington -- but the designs are about seven years old and some fish were being caught, said Mark Garner, president and CEO of Voith Hydro York.
"This is our third generation of fish-friendly technology," he said.
The Corps wants the latest technology for the Ice Harbor project, to protect the migrating salmon and other fish on the Columbia River, Garner said.
The contract was awarded last month, with the units expected to be in place at the dam within about three years. All design work and final assembly of the turbines will be completed in York, he said.
No new jobs will be created in York as a result of the contract, but it will keep Voith on track for growth, Garner said.
The York facility has grown to 562 employees, and the company is hiring for about 15 positions, most of which are new, he said. Voith, a supplier of hydroelectric equipment, technology and services, has been heavily promoting hydropower as a renewable energy source in recent years.
The company has installed more than 40,000 generators and turbines worldwide, making it a leading manufacturer of water-powered generation.
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