Progress Energy Carolinas celebrates rare centennial milestone for power plant
RALEIGH, N.C. (May 31, 2012) – When Progress Energy Carolinas’ Blewett Falls Hydroelectric Development in Lilesville, N.C., began producing electricity, William Howard Taft was president of the United States and a loaf of bread cost one Liberty Head Nickel.
On June 1, the 22-megawatt (MW) plant, located along the Pee Dee River, will observe 100 years of service – only the second Progress Energy power plant to mark a centennial anniversary.
“For a century, the Blewett hydroelectric plant has served the region with safe, reliable and affordable electricity,” said Bill Johnson, chairman, president and CEO of Progress Energy. “Achieving this milestone is a testament to the hard work and dedication of hundreds of current and former Blewett Plant employees. Throughout the changes in the electric utility industry during the last 100 years, Blewett has been a dependable source of clean energy for our customers and communities.”
Around 1900, Hugh MacRae of Wilmington, N.C., selected the Blewett Falls site for the construction of a dam and hydroelectric plant. Construction began in 1905 and, despite a delay caused by a 1908 flood, the plant went into commercial operation June 1, 1912. It was one of the largest hydroelectric plants at the time. The plant persevered through another setback in September 1945 when a historic flood caused water to rise 20 feet above the operating floor, completely submerging all generators. Despite major damage, employees restored service to several units within three weeks.
Today, the plant has 10 employees with additional personnel shared with the utility’s nearby Tillery hydroelectric plant. Blewett produces on average about 129,281 megawatt-hours per year, which is roughly equivalent to the annual electricity demand of 8,978 homes. In addition to six hydroelectric generating units, Progress Energy Carolinas’ Blewett site in Anson County also houses four-combustion turbine units (added in 1971) with a total capacity of 52 MW.
Progress Energy owns and operates four hydroelectric plants along rivers in North Carolina. Together, these stations provide 225 MW of reliable, emission-free generation to the region. The 4-MW Marshall Plant, located on the French Broad River in Marshall, N.C., consists of two hydroelectric generating units and celebrated a century of service in 2010. The 87-MW Tillery Plant, located on the Pee Dee River in Mt. Gilead, N.C., began commercial operation in 1928, with additions in 1960. The 112-MW Walters Plant, located on the Pigeon River in Waterville, N.C., began commercial operation in 1930.
The hydroelectric generation is a vital part of the mix of resources Progress Energy Carolinas uses to meet the needs of 1.5 million households and businesses 24 hours a day. The mix also includes nuclear plants and facilities fueled by natural gas, coal and oil. The company also purchases and distributes electricity generated by solar facilities and other renewable technologies.
About Progress Energy
Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a Fortune 500 energy company with 23,000 megawatts of generation capacity and approximately $9 billion in annual revenues. Progress Energy includes two major electric utilities that serve about 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida. The company is pursuing a balanced strategy for a secure energy future, which includes aggressive energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. Progress Energy celebrated a century of service in 2008. Visit the company’s website at www.progress-energy.com.
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