Claytor Lake or Project 739?

On Tuesday December 5th, I was greeted by four flying saucer shaped generators. More reminiscent of “Area 51″ Nevada, than the New River Valley in Virginia, the Dam, built back in 1939 is still the largest of the company’s 12 hydroelectric plants, with a total generating capacity of 83,000 Kilowatts. In 1944 the people surrounding the area expressed an interest in the establishment of a State Park on the new lake. Their vision created the lake we are familiar with today with fishing, skiing, boating, hiking trails, camping, a visitor center and housing around the highly sought-after 100 miles of shoreline property.  The lake backs up from the dam for over 21 miles.

At this time, one of the four 20,000 kilowatt generators is in the process of being replaced.  The generator portion is connected to the water turbine by a 24 inch diameter solid steel shaft that spins at 1381/2 times per minute that travels to the turbines 65 feet below the water level.

Hi-Power hydraulics-for-wicket-gates

Hi-Power hydraulics-for-wicket gates These small gates adjust the water into the turbine. The turbines must turn at a precise speed so the generators produce power at exactly 60 Hertz. Controlling the speed of the turbines is accomplished by controlling the amount of the water entering the turbines by the use of hydraulic wicket gates that resemble 20 small gates that regulate water amounts.

The Dam is so automated now that there are only two full time employees to run the whole thing. When repairs or replacement parts are to be installed, a team of skilled mechanics travel from one dam to the next and perform regular maintenance and repairs.

Opening Day at the Dam

The one picture shows the uninstalled new generator core with all the magnets numbered around the outside. It is basically a 55 ton version of an auto generator, very similar to the alternator that keeps your car’s battery charged. The generators are covered with the flying saucer shaped protectors, but the actual turbines are way below those covers.

Hopefully next time you turn on a light switch or power up your PC, you will know that although the electricity comes from a national grid. We are generating our fair share right here at Claytor Lake.

Many thanks to the Staff at the Dam for taking time out from their schedule to show the Alternative and Hybrid Energy Class, ELE 176, their great facility.  Also thanks to Keith McAllister and Montie Fleshman for arranging the tour.

Self Contained Fire Equipment for Electrical Fires

Self Contained Fire Equipment for Electrical Fires

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