The National Hydropower Association in the US has recognized six companies through its Outstanding Stewards of America's Waters (OSAW) Awards. The winners - Grant County PUD, Tacoma Power, Portland General Electric, Kaukauna Utilities, Northwest RiverPartners, and Georgia Power - have developed projects that the NHA says have provided extraordinary operational, recreational, historical, environmental, or educational value.
"NHA established the OSAW awards as a way to encourage the industry to go above and beyond. This year's winners certainly did not disappoint," said Linda Church Ciocci, Executive Director of NHA. "Each of these projects shows a commitment to the awardee's community and ecosystem that is worthy of recognition and is indicative of the dedication to good water stewardship that the industry at-large continues to demonstrate."
Two awards were given in the category of Operational Excellence:
• Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) finalized designs for a new state of the art advanced turbine for Wanapum Dam back 2003. After receiving FERC approval, the PUD worked for over a decade to install 10 new units. Results of the new design demonstrate increased power generation and improved fish passage.
• Tacoma Power combined a new powerhouse and innovative fish collection system on an existing dam. Migrating adult fish are attracted into a collector with water discharged from two turbines. The facility re-opens fish passage and recovers energy from water released for fish into the North Fork Skokomish River in Mason County, Washington.
One award was presented for Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement:
• Georgia Power's Rock Hawk Effigy and Trails provide educational and recreational activities for more than 70,000 visitors annually. A pilot educational program, an outdoor museum showcasing 12,000 years of local history, extensive nature trails, and a diverse array of wildlife and habitat provide a day-long learning experience for middle school students.
In the category of Public Education, three awards were conferred:
• Portland General Electric and the Estacada Area Arts Commission's annual Art Jam is an innovative and collaborative outreach program designed to foster public appreciation of the rich history of northwest hydroelectric power. In 2013, thirty local artists created works of fine art in a variety of media, drawing on inspiration from PGE's North Fork dam and the surrounding environment.
• Northwest RiverPartners' CleanHydro campaign, a massive public education campaign, featuring visually compelling TV ads, print ads, a website and more, educated over 7 million Northwest citizens about clean renewable hydropower. The effort succeeded, with polls showing increased public support for hydro across the board.
• Kaukauna Utilities was awarded an Outstanding Stewards of America's Waters Award for its partnership with Park Community Charter School (PCCS) and the 1000 Islands Environmental Center, in implementing the National Energy Education Development (NEED) curriculum as well as educating the public on energy efficiency and conservation. Kaukauna Utilities Staff provides tours, engaging demonstrations, and hands-on activities to support the NEED curriculum and 1000 Islands programs
NHA's OSAW selection panel, which included representatives from across the industry and media interests, determined the OSAW Award winners based on the project or program's initial challenge, innovation, collaboration with stakeholders, and results. The panel judges every project by its own merits.
NHA presented the awards at the association's annual conference in Washington, D.C.