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Hydropower 101: More than a century of clean energy in the Valley

“Hydropower” sounds like what a superhero would use to save the day. You won’t find it in any comic books though. 

In fact, we happen to think that it is a superpower. Since the early 1900s, Hydropower has produced clean energy for the Valley. So, what is it exactly? 

Did you know that the word “hydro” means water in Greek?

Hydropower is capturing and controlling the power of water

In other words, hydropower is the term used for electricity that is produced from the energy of moving water. Here’s how it works :

  1. Power plants called hydroelectric facilities capture water from lakes and reservoirs. 
  2. Water flows into a turbine, causing it to spin. 
  3. The turbine activates a generator that converts its energy into electricity.
  4. Electricity is transferred into the grid and then used in homes and businesses around the Valley. 

SRP operates several dams that produce hydropower, including: 

Water flows to meet the Valley’s energy demands

Have you ever visited the Salt River lakes and seen the changing water levels? If so, you have seen hydropower in action.  

Pump-back technology moves water upstream from the lower lakes to the upper lakes on the Salt River causing water levels to change.  

When electricity demand is at its highest in the Valley, we release a dam’s reservoir water to refill the lower lakes. The moving water generates up to 217 megawatts of carbon-free energy, powering around 48,825 homes

Hydropower is one of the cleanest sources of energy for the Valley, and it makes up 49% of our clean energy.  

What’s more, it’s also one of the oldest sources. 

Horse Mesa Dam.

Hydropower is a clean and historic energy source

SRP first delivered hydropower to the Valley in the early 1900s.  

The first hydropower was generated at the Theodore Roosevelt Dam in March 1906 on a trial basis. Only three months later, the dam’s power plant began running 24 hours a day.

SRP began delivering hydropower to the Valley on a permanent basis on Oct. 1, 1909.

Miles of power cable were strung throughout Arizona and three more dams were built by 1928:

  • Stewart Mountain Dam on Saguaro Lake 
  • Mormon Flat Dam on Canyon Lake 
  • Horse Mesa Dam on Apache Lake 

These new sources of power helped expand the state’s mining industry, bring more residents to Arizona, and pave the way for sustainable water use in the Valley. 

Powering businesses, homes and water conservation

Today, we are one of the largest water suppliers in Arizona. We deliver more than 244 billion gallons of water to the Valley each year. We also manage a 13,000-square-mile watershed that includes an extensive system of reservoirs, wells, canals and irrigation laterals.

Producing hydropower helps us get double the use out of our valuable water supply.

After we use the water to produce power, we release it to farms, businesses and homes around the Valley. 

The future of hydropower in the Valley

Learn more about hydropower, where your water comes from and how we plan for future needs.

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