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Conventional Hydro Plants

Conventional Hydro Plants

Harnessing the energy of flowing water

Conventional hydroelectric plants harness the energy produced by flowing water, using simple mechanics to convert the energy into electricity. Water falling from an elevated reservoir drives turbines to generate electricity. Because it uses water as a fuel source, hydroelectricity is inexpensive and environmentally friendly to produce. However, the amount of power that can be created by hydroelectricity is limited by the volume of water held by the dam in storage.

Duke Energy began its operations in the Carolinas as a hydroelectric company. As the population and industry grew, water power alone could no longer supply all the electricity needed. Today, our hydroelectric plants provide a small but important part of electricity in the Carolinas – mainly during short periods when power use is high, such as hot summer days and cold winter nights. The electricity produced by hydroelectric plants is available to meet customer demand within a few minutes.

content wide conventional hydro plant


The water is held in a reservoir, or lake, behind the dam.


Penstocks lead the water into a chamber housing the turbine. The water is held at a higher elevation than the turbine so that it can fall with enough force to strike the turbine’s blades and cause it to spin.


The turbine wheel is attached by a shaft to a system of magnets and wires called a generator. As the turbine rotates, these magnets and wires also spin – producing electricity.

Draft tube and tailrace

The water returns to the river by passing through a draft tube under the turbine and into the tailrace.


Frequently Asked Questions