Duke Power Company's
Keowee-Toxaway Project
Hydro Plants
On the South Carolina side of Lake Hartwell. the Seneca River is formed by the confluence of the Keowee and Little rivers (yet another Little River!). This all occurs within the upper reaches of Lake Hartwell. The Keowee and Little Rivers both are impounded to form Lake Keowee, similar to TVA's Fort Loudon and Tellico dams. The Little River Dam is a non-power dam; the Keowee Dam has a capacity of 158 Megawatts. It is billed as the only hydro plant to provide backup power for a nuclear plant (Oconee, located right next door!) The Keowee and Little River sections of the lake are joined by a short channel under the SC130/183 bridge where the two rivers beds were closest together. This road also continues over another bridge, which apparently crosses a channel into the nuclear plant complex, to provide cooling for the plant. One noticeble feature that is missing at this plant are the large cooling towers usually associated with a nuke plant: these mountain waters are cold enough to provide adequate cooling without the towers.

SC 130 continues south to Seneca, SC, crossing over the Little River Dam proper, and another large saddle dam. Both of these structures are earth and rockfill; we haven't found the size stats yet. Normal full pool for Keowee Lake is 800 feet MSL.

Roughly 11 miles as the crow flies north of Keowee Dam is Jocassee Dam. This dam impounds the 7500 acre Lake Jocassee, at the confluence of the Whitewater, Thompson, Toxaway, and Horsepasture Rivers, and numerous creeks. According to the map, the lake is about 340+ feet deep at the dam. Jocassee is a pumped storage facility with a capacity of 610 Megawatts. We're still looking for stats on the dam.

Continuing up the Whitewater River portion of the lake, you will eventually see the Lower Whitewater Falls as the river rolls off of Whitewater Mountain into the lake. Somewhere in this area (the lake map shows an "underwater weir") is the outlet works for the Bad Creek Plant. This plant is especially interesting, giving TVA's Racoon Mountain a run for its money. A rockfill dam impounds two small streams, Bad Creek and West Bad Creek, forming a 360 acre reservoir. This reservoir when full sits at some 2300 feet MSL (according to the Jocassee lake map), which is 1200 feet above the 1100 MSL normal pool of Lake Jocassee. The plant's capacity is given as 1065 Megawatts. We haven't found runtime and other interesting figures yet. There is a Visitor's Center at the plant, but it was not open when we were there. The gate to the place was open, so we drove in and saw another surprise. The switchyard for this thing looked to be a 500 KV switch! It looks like they have one 500 KV circuit tying this plant into their grid (the web page says its actually 525 KV): it was foggy and humid the day we were there, and the wires were definitely singing to us (it was kind of intimidating... that was the closest I have ever been to 500 KV lines).

The pictures, with the exception of the Bad Creek Switchyard, are borrowed from the Duke Power web site.