Tuesday, September 6, 2011

St. Louis District’s senior mechanic's innovation brings regional recognition to Clarence Cannon Dam

Kevin Long, St. Louis District senior mechanic (left) receives
 Mississippi Valley Division’s Hydropower Excellence Award.

At Mark Twain Lake in Northeast Missouri, boaters and recreationists enjoy more than 18,600 acres of tranquil waters. Thanks to the Clarence Cannon Dam and Power Plant also located at the lake, more than 20,000 residents enjoy more than 58 megawatts of clean, reliable power on demand.

The Power Plant, which experienced a historic surcharge during the 2008 high water event, broke records again this year with the acceptance of the Mississippi Valley Division’s Hydropower Excellence Award by the plant’s Senior Mechanic Kevin Long.

Long received the award on 25 August 2011 at the Hydropower Operation & Maintenance Conference in Portland, Oregon. 

“I was totally surprised,” Long said. Long added he felt honored to be recognized by Headquarters and the Division while in the company of over 250 highly respected professionals attending the conference. “It felt really good,” he said.

“The award, which is a first for the St. Louis District, is very well deserved,” said Sandra Spence, the lake’s Operations Manager.

“Kevin has shown the ability and drive to be a leader in the hydropower field throughout his career by utilizing his mechanical skills to meet all requirements to have a first class facility,” Spence said.

Long has worked full-time at the plant since 1986, and Spence said he brings not only leadership, but innovation to the facility.

In 2010, Long developed a design to address shear pin breakage in Unit 2, also known as the Francis Unit. Since implementation in February of this year, not a single shear pin on the unit has broken.

“Kevin’s design has stopped outages that could prevent the plant from meeting peak power requirements,” Spence said. “He is very innovative, and his design is simplistic. Thus, cost is kept to a minimum for supplies, and installation is not difficult.”

Long demonstrated the design at the Joint Hydropower Operations & Maintenance Conference, which highlights and shares the best industry practices and collaborative information to promote efficiency in the hydropower field. For Long, the design is as much about the hydropower field as it is about Mark Twain Lake.

“We kept having problems with shear pins cracking and I started thinking about ideas and trying new things,” Long explained of his design. “One idea led to another one, which led to another one, and in the end we came up with a fix,” he said.

“When you find a solution like this, you want to spread it around to other power houses.  If you can help one facility get through the same problem we had, it was worth it.”

Spence said Long not only helps to bring innovation to the field, he also brings a feeling of family to the staff. Following an unexpected loss of a beloved co-worker in 2010, Long volunteered to serve as the Family Assistance Officer and provide support not only to the family, but to the lake staff as they struggled to overcome their loss.  “He truly made a difference in (the family’s) life, as well as being an inspiration for the project staff,” Spence said.

For Long, the “team” is what his job is all about.  When speaking about the award and the plant’s record of reliability, he said, “This is not an ‘I’ deal, this is a ‘team’ deal.” 

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