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.
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.