Rock Island Dam on the USA’s Columbia River is to be fitted with a new VA Tech hydro generating unit under the terms of a recently signed contract. The €18 million contract was placed by the Chelan County Public Utility and is the first stage in the modernisation of five units at the dam, located in Washington state.

The upgrade will boost power output by 8% and has a 40 year life. Installation is due to begin in August 2006 with commercial operations anticipated in May 2007. The other unit upgrades are expected to continue through until 2012.

The VA Tech system was deemed the most fish-friendly, according to the company.