Wow! Hydro Power
The man-made lakes in Oconee County, SC were created in the 1970’s in a partnership between Duke Power and the state of South Carolina for the purpose of generating hydroelectricity.
Three lakes were engineered so that water from one would flow down to another: Lake Jocassee could release water into Lake Keowee and Lake Keowee could release water into Lake Hartwell.
The overall goal of Oconee’s lake system is to keep Lake Keowee at full pond, which is necessary to cool the towers at the Oconee Nuclear Station (located in Seneca, SC).
According to Duke Energy, “Oconee Nuclear Station is one of the nation’s largest nuclear plants with a generating capacity of approximately 2.6 million kilowatts. This is enough electricity to power 1.9 million homes.”
Bad Creek Hydro Station
Known as “The Marvel in the Mountain”, Duke Energy’s Bad Creek Hydro Station began operating in 1991. It was built near the Whitewater River inside a mountain bordering Lake Jocassee. Part of the station can be seen by boat and you can drive up fairly close to the facility. But don’t be fooled…this place is extremely well guarded with hidden cameras and hi-tech means, so no funny business.
Above the Bad Creek Hydro Station there’s a 367-acre Bad Creek Reservoir that serves as an enormous battery. The plant produces energy when its cloudy and stores energy when it’s sunny. During low energy demand, the facility pumps water up to the Bad Creek Reservoir for storage. When demand for power is high, water is released back down to the pump turbines that generate energy and then the water is returned into Lake Jocassee. When the level of Lake Keowee gets low, water from Lake Jocassee can be released to bring it back to full pond. If Lake Keowee gets too full, water is released into Lake Hartwell.