Hoover Dam Green Power

Electrifying a Region

Power generated at Hoover Dam keeps the neon signs and the hotel-casinos of the Vegas Strip humming. If it weren’t for the dam, Las Vegas would still be the dusty way station it was in the early 1900s. Today, the dam’s 17 gigantic, two-story-tall turbines produce enough electricity to light thousands of homes and fuel hundreds of businesses in the Southwest.

Hoover Dam is one of the country’s largest hydroelectric power plants and generates more than 4 billion kilowatt hours in a year, capable of serving 1.3 million people. Clean and renewable, hydroelectricity does not result in air pollution or chemical runoff. In addition, Hoover Dam pays for itself. The sale of power to entities in Nevada, Arizona, and California funds the dam’s maintenance and operation.

When the dam was first being planned in the 1920s, power was third on the list of priorities. Flood control and water conservation in this vast desert region were the top reasons for building for what was then the biggest dam in the world. However, the need for electricity quickly arose after the first seven generators were installed in 1939, and during World War II the dam provided power to defense plants in Southern California and in Henderson’s Basic Magnesium processing facility. By the end of the war, four more generators were up and running, but the demand for electricity continued to grow. The last turbine was installed in 1961. To boost the electricity output, all 17 were replaced in an up rating program conducted from 1986 to 1993.

Water from Lake Mead, which was created by Hoover Dam, irrigates farmlands and services burgeoning towns and cities. Coupled with the generation of hydroelectric power, Hoover Dam makes life in the desert possible—by keeping water supplies topped up and air conditioners operating.