The three ladies from the Mur
In 1987 the apprentice Andreas Huterer was instructed on how to handle Margot, who was already 60 years old at the time. Margot was one of three Francis turbines manufactured by Voith that the workers at the Pernegg hydropower plant had affectionately christened Eva, Margot and Irmgard. “Mechanics worked by ear,” reminisces Huterer. He, too, learned how to inspect the machines using his hearing. “These turbines can tell how they are feeling by the noises they make.”
Margot – red, round, roomy. A glorious example of a turbine, or, as Huterer puts it, “She’s absolutely awesome.” Nowadays she is on display on the front grounds of the hydropower plant as a technical monument. Originally put into operation in 1927 as one of the three ladies from the Mur, she ran for 600,000 operating hours without faltering. “It was a really strange feeling when she was lifted out of the power plant in 2013,” says Huterer. “Each of them was unique. They all had character.”
Verbund AG operates the Pernegg location. 90 percent of the power generated by Austria’s largest producer of electricity comes from hydropower sources. The turbines at Pernegg provide power for up to 35,000 households. The power plant nestles in the bottom of a valley in Styria, tucked in by gentle hills. Only the imposing Rote Wand rock face dominates the scene. The air carries a hydrophonic symphony composed of roaring, foaming, splashing and dropping water. At this point, the idyllic river Mur drops almost 17 meters down the valley – the perfect location for a hydropower plant.