Ishpeming, MI- Construction will affect recreation as the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) replaces two 80-foot long wood stave penstock pipes at the Prickett Hydroelectric Project in early July with anticipated completion later in 2012.
The work involves removing the old wood stave penstocks which are 8-foot in diameter and replacing them with new steel penstocks. The large pipes transport water to the electric generating units from the reservoir above the intake dam on the Sturgeon River.
UPPCO says numerous inspections and repairs to the penstocks have been performed over the years to extend their useful lives. However, the wooden penstocks are now at the point where repairs are no longer feasible and need to be replaced with new steel penstocks.
The construction area includes the fishing area between the dam and the power house in the Sturgeon River and a portion of the canoe portage area. These areas will be closed from July 9 through the end of the year when construction crews are working which is expected to be during normal business hours on Monday through Friday.
The Prickett Reservoir has been operating two feet below normal level, but is expected to start returning to normal levels at the end of June, provided inflows are adequate. The rate of refill will depend on precipitation and weather.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)’s Boat Landing on the west shore of the reservoir will remain open for public use as usual and the reservoir will not be drawn down to accommodate the construction activities.
The penstock replacement is being conducted in consultation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the MDNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agricultural – Forest Service, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the United States Geological Survey.
The two electrical generating units, built in 1931, produce about 2 megawatts of electricity.