Chelan County PUD is boosting its budget for an upgrade project at Rock Island Dam by $5.6 million to bring the total cost to $25 million. 

The project will improve hydro capability at the dam and ensure another 40 years of reliable operation, among other things. 

PUD Commissioner Garry Arseneault thinks it's a game changer. 

"The value that this modernization project brings to the customer-owners of Chelan County PUD is tremendous," said Arseneault. "And it's not to be underestimated that this will provide for green, carbon free, hydro generation for many years into the future. It's huge." 

PUD commissioners approved the budget revision at their Monday board meeting. 

The project will also offer new fish-friendly turbines and greaseless components and will involve PUD workers learning about the new technology to ensure long-term reliability.  

PUD engineering and project management manager Tim McMaster says the equipment in question dates back to the beginning of the dam in 1933. 

"These particular units that we're working on right now are the initial four units on the Columbia River, so they were installed 90 years ago," said McMaster. "And so, they're requiring quite a bit of extensive work in order to bring them back up into reliability." 

The project known as the B3 modernization project returns the second small Powerhouse 1 unit to service. 

The dam has two Powerhouses that contain 19 generators between them. 

The budget increase is driven by a number of factors, including unanticipated costs of machining and repairs to the discharge liner, which is a major component of the project. It includes the addition of a rescue crew that is available around the clock for five months. 

The increase is also being cause by product and material supply issues, an escalation in the cost of labor and materials and the startup learning curve for new tooling and procedures 

The upgrade project should be completed by mid to late 2026. 

More From 610 KONA