TVA’s Unconventional, Top Producing Hydro Plant To Stay Out Of Action A While Longer

TVA's lake atop Raccoon Mountain covers 528 acres. Image: Tennessee Valley Authority

TVA’s lake atop Raccoon Mountain covers 528 acres. Image: Tennessee Valley Authority

The Tennessee Valley Authority says repairs at Raccoon Mountain are taking longer than expected. The hydroelectric plant near Chattanooga has been TVA’s most productive, with a design that makes it one of kind in Tennessee, and one of just ten nationwide.

TVA built a man made lake atop Raccoon Mountain in the 1970s. It works less like a dam and more like a gigantic faucet. Water from the lake falls through massive turbines, into the Tennessee River below. To refill the lake, TVA pumps water from the river back to the top of the mountain.

Some turbine rotors cracked last year, due to a design flaw. So, TVA shut down Raccoon Mountain to replace them. CEO Bill Johnson says the 50 million dollar project is running a little behind schedule.

“The first unit was supposed to have been back by now,” Johnson said. “It was supposed to have been back on the original schedule in July. We’ve had a little trouble with that schedule. The first unit will be back October 18.”

Johnson didn’t give a reason for the delay. But Raccoon Mountain’s closure comes as TVA’s dams are working overtime, due to an unseasonably wet summer. Raccoon Mountain is TVA’s largest water-powered plant, capable of generating more electricity than a nuclear reactor.

Watch TVA crews disassemble one of the turbine units in this time-lapse video.

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