West Virginia Department of Commerce Hydro Energy

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Hydro Energy



Hydro Energy - Winfield Locks and Dam
Hydropower is the most prevalent form of renewable energy used to generate electricity today. The process involves harnessing energy from moving water.

History of Hydropower
Hydropower is one of the oldest sources of energy. It was used thousands of years ago to turn a paddlewheel for purposes such as grinding grain. The first U.S. hydroelectric power plant opened in Wisconsin in September 1882.

How It Works
The amount of available energy in moving water is determined by its flow or fall. Both swiftly flowing water in a big river and water descending rapidly from a very high point have a great deal of energy in the flow. In either instance, the water flows through a pipe, or penstock, then pushes against and turns blades in a turbine to spin a generator to produce electricity. In a “run-of-the-river” system, the force of the current applies the needed pressure. In a storage system, water is accumulated in reservoirs created by dams, then released as needed to generate electricity.

Hydropower in West Virginia
West Virginia is taking a bold and progressive approach toward hydropower to help reduce our dependence on foreign energy supplies.

Glen Ferris
In June 2010, Brookfield Renewable Power started the rehabilitation of a hydropower project located in Glen Ferris on the Kanawha River. The company is investing $25 million to bring the plant, built in 1899, back into full production. The project includes the overhaul and modernization of the facility’s eight turbine units. When completed in 2012, the Glen Ferris hydropower project will generate more than 38,000 megawatt hours a year of renewable power for the West Virginia electricity market. That’s enough electricity for 4,500 households.

Hawks Nest
Brookfield also manages the 102-megawatt hydropower plant at Hawks Nest on the New River. The company has committed $50 million to a 20-year capital investment program for the plant.

New Martinsville
The New Martinsville Hydroelectric Plant continues to be a good source of renewable clean energy. The 36-megawatt Wetzel County unit produces enough power for a city seven times the size of New Martinsville, which has a population of 7,000. The plant has used the Ohio River to generate its power since 1988. The power is sold to Allegheny Energy for distribution to the nation's electric grid. The plant design uses the natural flow of the Ohio River to generate electricity.

Hydropower around the USA
Hydropower is the renewable energy source that produces the most electricity in the United States. It represents about 8 percent of all power in the U.S. and more than 90 percent of all the renewable power generated in the U.S. Hydro provides more than 16 times as much energy as wind and solar power combined, according to Hydro Review.

 

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Hydropower: A Small but Growing Presence in W.Va. Electric Grid Learn more.