Irish power management company Eaton has secured new contracts from the US Army Corps to upgrade and extend the lifespan of electrical systems at four hydropower facilities in Kentucky and Tennessee, US.

Eaton has been awarded the contracts by Aponte Power Services, a US company working directly with the Army Corps of Engineers in Nashville.

Modernisation of the systems will support dams along the Cumberland River to continue producing sustainable electricity and facilitate flood control and water supply.

Energy generated from the hydropower projects at the Barkley, Dale Hollow, Old Hickory, and Laurel hydroelectric sites will be able to meet electricity demands of residential and industrial areas in the country.

Under the terms of the contract, Eaton will carry out the designing, development, delivery, installation, and commissioning of electrical distribution, protection, and safety systems at the four sites. The company will also replace traditional powerhouse equipment with new technology to optimise performance levels.

The new technology includes high-voltage circuit breakers, motor control centres, power transformers, and arc flash safety solutions.

"Many hydroelectric generating plants in the US have surpassed typical design life."

Eaton's electrical engineering services and systems division vice-president and general manager John Stampfel said: “Many hydroelectric generating plants in the US have surpassed typical design life and can benefit greatly from the implementation of modern power management strategies.

“By drawing on years of hydroelectric modernisation experience, Eaton is well positioned to help optimise hydroelectric assets for simplified maintenance and improved operating cost and advanced safety.”

The company will equip the circuit protection equipment with arcflash reduction maintenance system to enhance safety by reducing fault clearing time and incident energy levels.

The company will also deploy remote racking devices at the four plants to help increase operator safety.

All modernisation work will be carried out in phases to reduce downtime and the project is expected to be completed in September this year.