Mt Washington Auto Road gets new hydro-electric station

This has been an exciting week behind the scenes here at the Auto Road. After several years of investigation and research, we have been able to bring on line a new and much more efficient hydro-electric generator. We believe this new setup will supply 100% of the electrical needs of the lodge that serves both the Auto Road in summer and Great Glen Trails in summer and winter.

Historically there has been some form of hydro generation here for many decades. Records are not conclusive as to when this all got started but we know that a very elaborate waterworks has been in place since the late 1800s at least. Initially this water system supplied the second Glen House (1885 – 1893) with water for domestic use and possibly was used to generate direct current power as well. In 1965 Doug Philbrook, then president and general manager of this company, contracted with Small Hydro East to install a modern turbine and generator. Although this set was designed to produce up to 10 KW of power, we never were able to squeeze anywhere near that amount from it, and in recent years the output was around 2 – 3 KW. In the process of trying yet again to produce more power, we realized the generator and turbine were simply worn out. With the help of Bill Clewes and Greg Cloutier and along with advances in small hydro technology we found that we’d be able to produce much more power while using exactly the same amount of water that we have historically diverted from the Nineteen Mile Brook source. Canyon Hydro out of Deming, Washington was engaged to design and build a new Pelton style turbine and generator that would take advantage of the water and pressure that we have available.

Bill Clewes did a magnificent job with the electrical design necessary to connect to the PSNH grid and Greg Cloutier took care of supplying the expertise necessary to give Canyon Hydro the correct information and then do the actual installation of the new setup. Many long days spent working through the various challenges resulted in our successfully coming on line last Friday with much thanks to both Bill and Greg. We are seeing 10.5 KW from the generator when we can run fully open. We are currently having a water delivery issue that has resulted in our having to back off to 6KW in order to maintain a reservoir full of water at all times. We suspect that the old wooden penstock that dates back to the 1800s is experiencing more tree root invasions that will have to be addressed in the spring. Still, we are getting 2-3 times more power than from the turbine/generator we replaced.

Clean, renewable power coming from a decades old infrastructure has enabled us to reduce our carbon footprint substantially. And just as important from a business standpoint, will allow substantial operational savings beyond the projected 4 year payback. hw

This entry was posted in History, Mt Washington Auto Road. Bookmark the permalink.
  • JAMES REED

    Please Tell Bill I got to look at this web site and enjoyed it. I am saving it to favorites. How nice to be able to realize such a increase in power output, great job!
    Jim,

  • alan

    you’d be so green if you could make the coaches electric, powered by hydro…