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Grant PUD investigating exciter fires at Priest Rapids Dam

Dam operations will be modified during investigation

EPHRATA – Priest Rapids Dam operators extinguished a small fire in equipment called an exciter, which provides energy to start up one of the generating units, shortly after 1 a.m. today.

The fire affected Unit No. 7 at Priest Rapids Dam. On Oct. 3, there was a similar fire in the exciter for Unit No. 1. In both situations, dam operators – using methods learned during training – were able to extinguish the fires promptly, keeping them isolated to the cabinets that house the exciter equipment.

Grant PUD staff and the manufacturer of the equipment are investigating the cause of both fires. Until the investigation is complete, special precautions are being taken in the operations of the other generating units at Priest Rapids, including increased monitoring and reducing start-up cycles. All of the exciters at Wanapum Dam have been upgraded and should not have the potential for fires.

The two fires did not affect the structure of the dam. It continues to safely generate power and pass river flows, and will continue operations to provide optimal water levels for Fall Chinook salmon spawning in the Hanford Reach

Grant PUD also appreciates the quick response of area firefighters who on both occasions helped determine that the fires had been extinguished and used their equipment to ventilate smoke from the dam.

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Established by local residents over 80 years ago, Grant PUD generates and delivers energy to millions of customers throughout the Pacific Northwest. What began as a grassroots movement of public power has evolved into one of the premiere providers of renewable energy at some of the most affordable rates in the nation. For more information visit www.grantpud.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.