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PECO'S CONOWINGO HYDROELECTRIC STATION MARKS 65TH ANNIVERSARY -- 'A SYMBOL OF PROGRESS' IN 1928, ONE OF THE WORLD'S LARGEST POWER PROJECTS

 PHILADELPHIA, March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Philadelphia Electric Company (NYSE: PE) (PECO) marks the 65th anniversary this week of the Conowingo Hydroelectric Station, which began harnessing the power of water to produce electricity in March 1928.
 At the time, Conowingo was the largest single hydroelectric facility anywhere in the world. Construction lasted two years, involved 3,725 workers, and cost $52 million! The mile-long dam crossing the Susquehanna River (at U.S. Route 1 in Maryland) and its 512-megawatt electric generating station was designed and built by Stone & Webster, Inc.
 Conowingo Hydroelectric Station is operated with 85 employees by Susquehanna Electric Company (SECO), a wholly owned PECO subsidiary. SECO employees, annuitants, and guests will gather at a special banquet on Friday, March 5. The company will celebrate the anniversary with a special open house Saturday for PECO employees and their families.
 The public is invited to join PECO in celebrating Conowingo's 65th anniversary with a public open house on Sunday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The powerhouse lobby will be adorned with historical displays and Conowingo staff will provide tours to see firsthand the internal operation of the electric generating system. Safety equipment, hard hats and glasses will be provided for those 12 and older who will participate in the guided tours. Refreshments and mementos will be available.
 The following is historical information about Conowingo:
 The first of Conowingo Hydroelectric Station's 11 generating units began producing power for the region on March 1, 1928, following two years of construction and fulfilling years of planning.
 Conowingo, known as a "run of the river" hydro facility, is along U.S. Route 1 six miles from the Pennsylvania border, 65 miles from Philadelphia, 40 miles from Baltimore, and 12 miles from Havre de Grace, Md., where the Susquehanna River discharges its waters into the Chesapeake Bay.
 It is one of two hydroelectric facilities on PECO's electric generating system, which serves 1.5 million customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland. The Muddy Run Pumped Storage Facility, 13 miles upriver from Conowingo, in Lancaster County, Pa., will commemorate its 25th anniversary later this year.
 Joseph F. Paquette Jr., PECO chairman and chief executive officer, said, "Conowingo is a prominent part of the PECO system. It was a remarkable engineering feat. The power of the river has provided dependable and clean energy for the region's electric consumers, and the project resulted in numerous recreational facilities that are enjoyed by thousands each year."
 "Conowingo's longevity is a tribute to those who built it, and who operated and maintained the station through the years," Paquette added.
 Conowingo's construction was envisioned by Dr. William C.L. Eglin, a PECO vice president and the company's chief engineer. It was largely due to his energy that the monumental plant was conceived and built.
 Named by the Indians, Conowingo means "at the rapids." For 65 years, it was hailed as a symbol of progress and has represented a realization of dreams.
 The project converted a picturesque, sleepy town of 150 years near the shores of the Susquehanna River, with a population of 200, into a city of feverish activity. Like most small communities, there was a church, a school, a railroad station, an inn, and a number of homes. On both sides of the river, temporary lodging was established for the workers who came from many miles away to build the massive dam and powerhouse. Later, the town's buildings were removed, 16 miles of railroad track were relocated, and thousands of acres of lowlands were cleared of timber. More than 1.5 million cubic yards of earth and rock were excavated, 750,000 cubic yards of concrete poured, and 4,600 tons of structural steel erected. Work carried on without interruption.
 Eventually, the little town was replaced by Conowingo's lake formed by the dam. The 14-square-mile lake receives water from a 27,400- square-mile area, about half of Pennsylvania and an eighth of New York state, and holds 150 billion gallons of water.
 The area around Conowingo was considered as a site by numerous parties for power development dating back to the 1880s. It was desirable to locate the dam as close to the tidewater, four miles away, as possible. The final site, about two miles below the former village, was adopted because of the natural abutments formed by the hills on either side of the river. The river bed and banks are made of firm, hard granite.
 Conowingo's electric output varies widely with the rapidly changing Susquehanna flow. Day-by-day, with the seasons, and year-by-year -- the flow has been sometimes great. The all-time record flow, during Hurricane Agnes in June 1972, was nearly 7.5 million gallons of river water per second. It also has been sometimes quite little, as low as 1,400 cubic feet per second, on Sept. 13, 1964.
 Half of Conowingo's expanse consists of 52 spillways designed as safety valves when the amount of water flowing down the river is greater than that needed to turn the water wheels. River flow up to 85,000 cubic feet per second can be passed through the dam to generate power at full capacity.
 The original design included seven generating units rated at 54,000 horsepower for each waterwheel, which were 27.5 feet in diameter. The seven generators could produce up to 252,000 kilowatts (kw) of electricity. The design provided for the future installation of four additional generators, which was completed in 1964 and raised the station's electric capacity to its present 512,000 kw. It provides excellent base and reserve capacity because the station can be put into service in a few minutes and can be shut down just as quickly. Its average annual electric output is 1.7 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh). Since 1928, it has produced more than 95 billion kwh of electricity for the region.
 In 1992, Conowingo began a $32 million modernization project as part of a long-term strategy to replace mechanical equipment reaching the end of its useful life and to improve operating efficiency. Much of the equipment being replaced was part of the original installation. The work began last summer and will continue periodically through the end of the decade.
 Alan Mitchell, PECO plant manager, said the project represents "a significant investment in future electric generation at Conowingo."
 CONOWINGO FACTS
 Construction start: March 8, 1926
 New Highway across dam opened: November 16, 1927
 First Unit On Line: March 1, 1928
 Length: 4,648 feet
 Width: 176 feet
 Depth: 96 feet
 Height: 105 feet from foundation of dam to the floor of the U.S. Route 1 bridge
 Voltage at generation: 13,800
 Voltage sent: 220,000
 (7) Generating Units: 512,000 kilowatts electric capacity
 Contractors: Arundel Corp., of Baltimore (concrete structure)
 Day & Zimmerman (substation and transmission)
 /delval/
 -0- 3/1/93
 /CONTACT: Michael Wood of Philadelphia Electric, 215-841-4125/


CO: Philadelphia Electric Company ST: Pennsylvania, Maryland IN: UTI SU:

MJ-LJ -- PH016 -- 1450 03/01/93 13:17 EST
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