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Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station Celebrates 20 Years of Service July 21, 2011

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Duke Energy Carolinas’ Bad Creek Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Station this year marks its 20th anniversary.

An engineering marvel that required excavating 14 million cubic yards of soil and rock to create a three-mile tunnel into which 58 miles of pipe were installed, Bad Creek is capable of generating 1,065 megawatts of electricity during peak demand periods. It is the largest hydroelectric station on the Duke Energy system.

“It’s hard to describe Bad Creek to anyone who hasn’t seen it,” said Larry Oliver, station supervisor. “We literally bored a hole into the side of a mountain through which we can channel water to generate electricity. To top it off, the system’s design allows us to use the same water over and over again. Now that’s what I call recycling.”

The station uses two reservoirs. When electricity demand is high, water from the upper reservoir flows through the cavernous tunnel to spin massive turbines that create electricity. When the demand for electricity has subsided, the station operators pump water from the lower lake -- Lake Jocassee -- back to the upper reservoir, basically like recharging a battery.

Bad Creek is not only an engineering wonder, but also an environmental success. From planning to completion, Duke Energy has taken special care to protect the environment surrounding the station. Relocating rare plant species, such as the Oconee Bell, was a top priority before breaking ground.

In 1995, Bad Creek was named a certified “Stewardship Development” site by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. This award recognizes sites that have taken special consideration to environmental impact and preservation. Bad Creek was the first site to receive this honor in the state.

One of Bad Creek’s most critical functions is to supply power to customers during times of high energy demand. The current heat wave is an example of when the hydroelectric station plays an integral part in keeping Upstate air conditioners humming.

Unlike large fossil or nuclear stations, which take time to bring online, hydroelectric stations can provide power almost at a moment’s notice. Once station operators open the gates and water rushes through the turbines, electricity is sent to the grid.

Having begun commercial operation in 1991, Bad Creek is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The license will be up for renewal in 2027.

Duke Energy Carolinas owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas and hydroelectric generation. That diverse fuel mix provides approximately 19,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 2.4 million customers in a 24,000-square-mile service area of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at:


Robert Cook
Phone: 864-873-4465
24-Hour: 800-559-3853

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