University City

Firm in University Research Park grows

Andritz Hydro Corp., which overhauls and rehabilitates hydroelectric power plants, is expanding its U.S. headquarters at University Research Park.

Andritz, which has offices on David Taylor Drive, recently won a $102 million construction contract to overhaul generators at Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.

The company also has won a $25 million contract for upgrades at Palisades Dam in Snake River, Idaho.

Andritz has been growing at a rate of about 20 percent a year and expects to continue at a similar pace as a result of the contracts, awarded by the U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation.

The company expects its staff of about 100 to continue growing as it provides services to a niche market that includes aging power plants.

"We are adding jobs," said Diane Marsilio, a human resources consultant for Andritz Hydro. "We have been in a continual hiring mode for several years."

Andritz Hydro is the largest division of the Andritz Group of Austria. The parent corporation makes equipment for several industries and had sales of about $5 billion in 2010.

Marsilio said growth in the U.S. operation has created a need for mechanical and some electrical engineers, but the work calls for a unique set of technical skills.

She declined to say how many jobs the company might add over the coming year.

The expected growth reflects demand for the company's services, as many of the nation's hydroelectric plants reach ages of 30 years or more.

The Bureau of Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second-largest producer of hydroelectric power in the U.S., with operations and facilities in 17 Western states.

The job of updating the bureau's aging plants calls for design and engineering of large-scale custom components. Andritz Hydro has started planning and design on both its contracts, Marsilio said.

Work on-site at Grand Coulee Dam, the largest concrete structure in the United States, is expected to begin in 2013 and continue into 2017.

Located on the Columbia River in central Washington, Grand Coulee is the largest producer of hydroelectric power in the U.S. and the third-largest facility of its kind in the world. The power plant began operating in 1951 and has been expanded.

Crews for Andritz Hydro are expected to begin work on site at Palisades Dam in September 2012 and continue there for about four years.

The plant has been operating since 1957.

Andritz Hydro's work to rehabilitate the dam's four power turbines is also expected to improve efficiency and power production.