If you picture just a big wall when you hear the term dam — we’re here to give you an inside look at what’s really going down, and spoiler, it’s pretty dam exciting.
Electric utility corporation Tennessee Valley Authority is offering public tours of its dams to celebrate 90 years — some for the first time since 9/11. Editor Haley was able to take a guided tour through the Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant. Grab your hard hat + take a virtual tour with us through the hydroelectric facility.
- The plant was constructed from 1970-79.
- Raccoon Mountain powers ~one million homes alone + is the largest rock-filled dam constructed by TVA
- The man-made reservoir above spans about 528 acres. of water surface + holds 107 billion gallons of water (it takes roughly 28 hours to fill up).
Maintenance Foreman Tony Weathers said Raccoon Mountain is a special asset because it can pump water + generate power depending on low and high demands.
- Transformers | Uses insulating oil which will get cooled down by rock water
- Chillers | Keeps the entire facility + equipment cool, two pumps work to take water and pump it back into the river
- Phase reversal switches | Swaps between “A” and “B” phases to change functions as a motor or generator
- Motors | Takes water from the river and pumps it into the reservoir
- Generators | Takes water from the reservoir and creates power
How does it all work? The plant acts like a large storage battery. Once a 60-hertz cycle is created, it will go out onto the transmission lines for the usage of utility companies like EPB. Raccoon Mountain generates about 14 times more power than the Chickamauga Dam.
Want to check it out for yourself? Folks can still tour TVA’s dams, including Chickamauga. The next registration window will be from Monday, July 10-Sunday, July 23. Note: Registration enters you into a lottery-style raffle where only 20 people will be selected to tour.
“With all of the clean-energy initiatives, it doesn’t get cleaner than the Raccoon Mountain hydropower.” — Tony Weathers