GRDA Power For Progress Column July 15, 2019

Jul 15, 2019

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

A closer look: GRDA’s Salina Pumped Storage Project

Located in the hills southeast of Salina, Oklahoma, on the Saline Creek arm of Lake Hudson, the Salina Pumped Storage Project (SPSP) is a unique facility that plays a vital role in the Grand River Dam Authority’s overall electricity production.

Built in the late 1960s, the facility – commonly referred to as “the Pumpback” – has the capability to produce 260 megawatts of electricity with its six pump-turbine units. However it is those “pump turbines” that serve to make the facility unique.

The SPSP operates like a traditional hydroelectric facility in the sense that it does harness the power of falling water to spin turbine-generators. Water flows down through large pipes, called penstocks, and passes across turbine blades, which rotate a shaft, attached to a generator rotor. The rotor spins inside a magnetic field, creating electricity. That’s common among practically all hydroelectric facilities.

However, pumped storage facilities like GRDA’s have another function. Those same turbines that create electricity can also be reversed to act as pumps to move water back through the units, back up the penstocks and back into storage for later use.

The SPSP’s storage reservoir (W.R. Holway Reservoir) actually sits approximately 200 feet above the powerhouse, in the hills above Lake Hudson. Six penstocks, one for each unit, are used to move water both directions along the bluff. During times of generation, water flows downhill, from Holway Reservoir, through the powerhouse and into Lake Hudson. During times of pumping, water is pulled from Hudson, through the powerhouse and pumped uphill into Holway Reservoir.

While such pumped storage projects were already popular in Europe, there were only a few in existence in the United States when GRDA built its facility in 1968. With no other sites along the Grand River available to construct a traditional hydroelectric facility, it was the only viable option at the time. Even though some believed it to be a bit “experimental” when it was constructed, the SPSP continues to be a vital part of GRDA’s overall generation portfolio today.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

Photo Caption Information: A powerful memory … An aerial shot of GRDA’s Salina Pumped Storage Project in 1968, nearing the completion of the first phase. Though considered a bit experimental by some at the time, the facility, including the W.R. Holway Reservoir, has gone on to be a vital part of the overall GRDA electric generation portfolio.

Justin Alberty
Vice President of Corporate Communications
Grand River Dam Authority
(918) 256 5545