Flumes, forebays, penstocks, turbines, generators, powerhouses. Nobody knows more about the three hydroelectric generating stations on the Kaweah River than Jim Kennard, SCE’s senior manager. After 14 years at the helm of the three Kaweah plants and the one on the Tule River, Kennard, 58, will officially retire at the end of May 2019.
Kennard started with Southern California Edison in 1981, working first at Redondo Beach and next at the Etiwanda plant. After a stint with Reliant Energy, which purchased the Etiwanda Generating Station during the deregulation years, Kennard returned to the SCE in 2003, taking a job as an operator at Big Creek near Shaver Lake.
One year later, Kennard was offered the Three Rivers manager position and has worked here for the past 14 years. At the time of his retirement, he was in charge of the Kaweah-Tule Hydro operations but was also responsible for Kern River Hydro, McGrath Peaker, Porterville Solar, and the UC Santa Barbara Fuel Cell.
The three Kaweah Power Houses are each over a century old. Kaweah No. 1 (on Highway 198 near the Mineral King Road junction) went online in June 1899. Kaweah No. 2 (Kaweah River Drive) has been in operation since 1905. And Kaweah No. 3 (at the Sequoia National Park entrance) went into production in 1913.
About the videos:
Jim explains how he became an Edison employee and that he really didn’t know what to expect when he came to Three Rivers.
Part 1: The early years (above).
Part 2: An interview with Jim about his Three Rivers years (below, top).
Parts 3, 4, and 5: A tour of Kaweah No. 1, which will be 120 years old in June 2019, describing how the hydroelectric system works and the challenges to keep three historic powerhouses online and in production in order from top to bottom.