The Catawba-Wateree project provides 841 megawatts (MW) of clean, economical, and renewable power, which on average is enough electricity to power 103,000 homes. Hydroelectric plants can be started quickly to provide electricity when demand is high. The lakes associated with the project provide a reliable supply of cooling water for Duke Energy’s fossil and nuclear power plants. In addition to the power provided by these stations, the reservoirs provide the region with public water supplies, opportunities for public recreation, and wildlife habitat.
The limits of the project are defined by the project boundary. The project boundary for the Catawba-Wateree Hydro Project is generally defined by the full pond contours for the reservoirs, plus irregular shaped areas around the project works (i.e., dams and hydro powerhouses). Duke’s hydro stations are critical to meeting each day’s peak electrical demand. Hydroelectricity normally supplies 15% to 25% of the electricity needed each day when customers’ electricity usage is highest. Even though many of the Catawba-Wateree hydroelectric stations are approaching 100 years old, they are still very important elements in Duke’s generation mix. The performance characteristics of hydro are not matched by even the newest generation technologies. Hydro also helps insulate Duke electric customers from the cost and risk of having to obtain peak power from outside sources. Replacement power is a very speculative commodity. Its availability is never fully predictable, since sudden problems on other systems or Duke’s can create an instant need that makes replacement power unavailable at any price.
Modern hydro turbines can convert 90% of the available energy potential into electricity making it the most efficient generation source by far. The best fossil-fueled generators are only about 50% efficient.