AEE Raleigh Chapter - Jordan Lake Hydro Electric Dam Tour

Jordan Lake is a Corp of Engineers Lake in Central North Carolina formed by damming the Haw River. It was created due to flooding from a devastating hurricane in the Cape Fear River basin in 1945. The earthen dam was later modified to allow for hydro power generation with 2 turbines each generating a little over 1MW. The turbine structure is built in front of the dam and the intakes go up and down to control the water level. The park itself is beautiful with a scenic lookout over the dam and looking over the water.

The turnout for this meeting was excellent and different than our usual turnout. There were many more people that weren’t energy engineers per se but were very interested in seeing hydro power being produced and right in many of our back yards. There was also a number of spouses as well also interested in seeing the lake. And we also had a number of students from NC State University enjoying the tour.

The other part of this trip that was really fascinating is the tour was 5 days after Hurricane Florence had left our area. Florence, like the 1945 hurricane that got the dam built, dropped an incredible amount of rain on our area. The lake was near an all time high and a huge amount of water was being let out the spillway. The Corp was going to have to let out even more water the next day but it was fascinating to see a lake built for flood control doing it’s job at a critical time.

The meeting began with networking between the attendees while enjoying pizza provided by the chapter. The meeting then included a presentation from one of Lake Rangers at one of the dam overlook points. The Ranger detailed the history of the dam and facts about its size, performance, and the current unusually high lake levels. The walking tour completed next involved going out onto the platform for the power plant to get a close up look at the components that are used in the operation of the plant. The Lake Ranger answered questions from the attendees at the presentation and during the walking tour. All of the attendees had a great time and often refer to this meeting as their favorite chapter meeting for 2018.

Special thanks to Jordan Lake Ranger Blake Johnson who led the tour for us.