Priest Rapids

The original runners of the Priest Rapids Power Station are to be replaced after nearly 50 years of operation. Three 1:20 scale models were produced based on original prototype machine drawings. Baseline testing was performed on these models with the original runner design from 2008-2010. These three models were then distributed to three different potential manufacturers who have designed new runners and will compete for the contract to refurbish the power station. EPFL is responsible for the independent model testing of the three competitive runners designed by Alstom, Andritz and Voith.

The construction of the Priest Rapids Dam began in 1956 and was completed by 1961. The project was initiated in response to the Memorial Day 1948 flood that destroyed the town of Vanport. The Dam produced its first commercial generation in September 1963. Priest Rapids Dam is a hydroelectric, concrete gravity dam. It is located on the Columbia River, in the U.S. state of Washington. The dam is 36 km south of the town of Vantage, and 75 km northwest of the town of Richland. It is owned by the Grant County Public Utility District. Priest Rapids, for which the dam was named, are now submerged beneath the dam’s reservoir. 

Original Turbine Manufacturer: English Electric
Operation: 1963 to present
Dam: Concrete gravity fed
54 m high x 3,079 m long
Head: 22-24 m
Prototype runner diameter: 7.2m
Runner Installation:
10 x Kaplan 85 MW
Maximum Capacity: 955 MW

Priest Rapids Dam and Priest Rapids Lake


Competitive Model Testing (2013-2014)
Manufacturers: Voith, Andritz & Alstom
Rotational speed: 1050 rpm
Model Head: 5 – 10 m
Model Scale: 1:20

Schematic diagram of Model on Platform 1

Location of Priest Rapids (Point A)

Photo of Model on Platform 1