One advantage of using water to generate electricity is its low cost. Hydroelectricity is cheaper than electricity produced in coal-fired and nuclear power plants. This is because the fuel – water from rivers and lakes – is free. Water, unlike coal and uranium, is also a renewable resource. And since the fuel does not need to be burned, producing electricity from hydropower does not produce emissions.
Another advantage of hydropower is that the potential energy in water can be stored until it is needed to produce electricity. Then, it can be quickly converted to kinetic energy by allowing the water to flow into the turbines. The turbines spin, and the generators produce electricity in minutes.
Quick start-up times make hydroelectric plants ideally suited to provide peaking power. Hydroelectric plants can provide electricity in seconds at times when customers need it most.
In addition to ensuring a reliable supply of hydroelectricity for our customers, the lakes created by our hydroelectric plants provide communities with recreational opportunities, such as boating, fishing and swimming. The lakes also sustain wildlife habitats and offer water sources for everyday use to local communities.
At Duke Energy, we work in partnership with regulatory agencies, local communities and environmental organizations to protect and conserve environmentally sensitive areas around our lakes and to ensure an adequate stream flow to balance these many interests.