The Amador Water Agency In-Conduit Hydropower Development Project (AWA Project)

New higher-efficiency Pelton turbine designed for small in-conduit hydropower applications

Amador Water Agency


Sutter Creek, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

Site preparation and construction began in December of 2018 and continued through January of 2020. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, commissioning and startup was delayed until November of 2020. Initial production startup took place in December of 2020. Due to high vibrations and temperatures in the turbine bearings, run time was limited. In May of 2021, new bearings based on manufacturer re-design were installed, which resolved the temperature and vibration issues and the unit ran normally.

The Issue

One of the oldest turbine technologies in California is the Pelton turbine, designed for high pressure conduit sites. There are an estimated 62 MW of installed Pelton turbines in California that are nearing the end of their in-service asset life and an estimated 8.2 MW of new small, in-conduit Pelton sites that remain undeveloped due to lack of efficiency and high costs. There is an immediate need to design, test, and demonstrate an improved and more efficient Pelton turbine runner in order to provide a viable retrofit solution for degrading sites and expand small hydropower deployment in new sites throughout California.

Project Innovation

The goal of this project is to design, test, and demonstrate a 417 kW in-conduit Pelton turbine runner at an existing Pressure Reducing Station (PSR) site located in Ione, California. The project will demonstrate the ability to maximize the wasted energy captured at the station using an improved design of a higher-efficiency Pelton turbine runner specifically designed for small, in-conduit hydroelectric applications to contribute in the integration of in-conduit small hydropower into the existing state energy mix.

Project Goals

Design and demonstrate an efficient Pelton turbine for small in-conduit hydroelectric applications.
Provide a viable retrofit solution for degrading sites, expand to new sites for in-conduit small hydropower.
Redesign the high-head Pelton turbine that increases the turbine efficiency by 1 to 1.5 percent over the current design.

Project Benefits

The system developed under this project will recover and maximize the capture of wasted energy in a Pressure Reducing Station (PRS); improve the efficiency, performance, and cost of the Pelton turbine technology to capture wasted energy; provide a viable retrofit solution; and help expand small hydropower deployment.

Lower Costs


Water agencies throughout the state will have an opportunity to generate additional revenue and offset ever-increasing electricity costs associated with treating, distributing, and collecting water.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

The ability to capture the wasted energy at the Pressure Reducing Station to generate over 72,000 MWh of renewable power will offset 50,650 metric tons of CO2-equivalent over the 50-year useful asset life of the equipment.

Greater Reliability


The project will help achieve greater electricity reliability by supporting the generation of 72,000 MWh over a 50-year asset life of distributed, baseload renewable power using rotating equipment.

Key Project Members

Rick Ferriera

Rick Ferriera

Operations & Engineering Manager
Tim Brown

Tim Brown

Electrical IC Supervisor
Amador Water Agency



NLine Energy, Inc.


Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon Ltd


JSP Automation


Laminar Energy Services


Mechanical Analysis and Repair (dba MarTech)


Bailey Civil Engineering


Central Sierra Electric


Match Partners


NLine Energy, Inc.


Amador Water Agency


Contact the Team