Issue #6: November-December 2016

Natel is hiring!  Visit the careers page for a full list of open positions.


Natel Commissions New Belt Attachment Tester

Natel commissioned an additional belt attachment tester to simulate torsion in the multiple seals in the belt attachments simultaneously. This new tester increases Natel’s ability to test many parts at once, increasing the statistical rigor of our machine reliability testing program. 

Data Collection and Analysis System Added to Component Testers 

Natel is using tools from the IT world, designed to operate multi-million dollar data centers, and bringing them to the world of hydropower controls and automation. Applying systematized data collection to our in-house testers allows us to easily compare performance before and after mechanical changes, reproduce results, and learn what mechanical failures look like in data.

Monroe Hydro 

The team conducted end of season maintenance on both the hydroEngine and ancillary systems.  The team is now preparing to install trash rack and powertrain updates in advance of the irrigation season this spring. 

Freedom Falls 

After a drought in the Northeast that kept water conditions low at Freedom Falls through the fall, rains finally returned at the end of 2016. The return of water enabled Natel to bring the plant back online in December. During the summer off-months, Natel installed a number of system improvements, including a clutch for added system safety.  The plant achieved several important milestones in December, demonstrating the ability to operate safely under autonomous control, even with a grid outage and no operator supervision, in temperatures as low as -20 C. The Natel team will continue to monitor the plant remotely via the control system. 

New Co-op: Atif Ali 

At Natel, Atif is a Mechatronics Engineering co-op. His work focuses on devising a model-based data driven simulation for Natel's hydro-electric turbines, which will make prototyping and testing more efficient in the future. Atif is in his senior year in the Mechatronics Engineering program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

New Intern: Elaine Cunha

At Natel, Elaine is an environmental engineering intern. Her work focuses on modeling and quantifying the value of distributed, networked hydro. She is in her fourth year studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT and will graduate this spring.


Natel continues to search for qualified engineers interested in hydropower to join our team.  See a full list of open positions on the careers page.

Natel’s CEO and CTO Interviewed on “Direct Current”, the U.S. Department of Energy Podcast, on an Episode Titled “From Water to Wattage” 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s “Direct Current” podcast featured an interview with Gia and Abe Schneider.  The podcast described how Natel’s technology is helping shape a next generation of low-impact, sustainable hydropower in the U.S.  The podcast can be streamed at this link.

California Independent System Operator Ghana Delegation Visits Natel

As part of a visit to the California ISO, a delegation of electric power business and utility professional from Ghana visited Natel’s office at the end of 2016. This delegation, strongly interested in scalable, cost-effective renewable energy solutions, was able to tour Natel’s testing and assembly facilities.

Natel’s CEO invited to join the World Wildlife Fund’s National Council

Gia Schneider, Natel’s CEO, was invited to join the National Council of the World Wildlife Fund. She looks forward to working with the other council members and WWF on water, conservation and climate resilience issues.  

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee Open Letter to the Incoming U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary and Staff

Adam Atkinson-Lewis, VP of International Business Development, was one of 34 members appointed to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC) by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 2016. The REEEAC recently published an open letter to the former Commerce Department Secretary Pritzer, to be passed along to the incoming Secretary Department staff, highlighting the economic role of renewable energy and energy efficiency companies, key employment growth numbers in both industries, and their future export potential abroad. You can read the letter here.

Natel hosts NewCo Innovative Business Forum

Natel will be hosting a group of NewCo attendees on February 7th from 11am-12pm at Natel’s HQ in Alameda. NewCo is a forum that hosts events for interested senior-level business leaders, job seekers and interested creative people focused in innovative technology industries and companies who are thought leaders in areas of interest. NewCo’s mission is to identify, celebrate, and connect the engines of positive change in society. See more on NewCo and purchase tickets to the event at their website.

NWHA Annual Conference, Portland, OR 

Eric Thompson, VP Sales and Marketing, will represent Natel at the annual Northwest Hydro conference from February 22-24 in Portland, OR. Stop by and visit us at Booth 12.

Department of Energy Peer Review Session 

On February 14th, Abe Schneider, CTO, will take part in the Department of Energy’s  Peer Review Session alongside other recipients of Water Power Technology grants. At the session, Abe will present on technical, performance, and project details for the Monroe Hydro Project and hear from other industry professionals.

Upscaling Mini-grids for Least Cost and Timely Access to Electricity Services 

Michael Spolum, Bhutan Country Manager,  will represent Natel at a learning event on Upscaling Mini-grids in Naypyidaw, Myanmar from February 6 to 10. Convened by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the week-long event is comprised of a series stakeholder roundtables, field visits, a technical conference and an investor forum. 

Mid-Pacific Region Water Users’ Conference

Jessica Andrews, Strategic Partnerships Associate, represented Natel at the 50th annual Mid-Pacific Region Water Users’ Conference, attended by representatives from districts served by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation facilities in California, Nevada, and Oregon. The conference took place January 18-20th in Reno, Nevada.

IFC Stakeholder Consultation for Myanmar’s ESIA Guidelines 

Michael Spolum on December 8 represented Natel Energy in Nay Pyi Daw, Myanmar at an IFC-sponsored stakeholder consultation on the Table of Contents for Myanmar’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), which is currently being drafted by the Ministry Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) and the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE). Michael will be attending a follow-up IFC-led consultation on Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) in Yangon, Myanmar on January 26. 

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