Louisville’s location on the Ohio River allows the opportunity for LG&E to safely harness the natural energy of the river to create electricity. Ohio Falls Hydro Station was built in the mid 1920’s and was commissioned in 1927.
The station is uniquely located within the McAlpine Locks and Dam Navigational Project and the Falls of the Ohio Natural Wildlife Conservation Area. The Army Corps of Engineers operates the dam and spill gates at the Falls to help control and monitor the flow of the river for navigation.
Water first flows through a set of trash bars, which prevent large pieces of debris, such as trees, stumps and trash, from going through the units and causing damage. After passing through the trash bars, the water flows through the turbine, whose blades rotate a shaft connected to the generator, which also rotates with the turbine. When the generator rotates, electricity is produced. The water then flows out of the plant unaltered and continues down river.
During the plant’s first years of operation, the amount of electricity generated by the Ohio Falls Station provided most of the power needed to serve the city of Louisville. The relatively small capacity of the hydroelectric plant, however, quickly became insufficient to meet the needs of the growing city. More than 80 years later, this cost-effective, environmentally friendly source of power continues to operate.
Ohio Falls project updates
In addition to major new investments in state-of-the-art power generation and environmental controls, the company is increasing its non-emitting generation capacity to enhance the diversity of its generation portfolio and minimize its effect on the environment.
In 2005, LG&E renewed its license to operate the Ohio Falls Hydroelectric Station. A rehabilitation project is currently underway to update and refurbish the eight existing turbine/generator units over the next several years.
The project consists of a three-phase upgrade, two of which are already completed. When the entire work is finished in 2017, generation will increase from 80 to 102 megawatts, a 27-percent rise.
Phase I: Design, procurement and installation of equipment for automating and remote-operation of all units. Completed in 2002.
Phase II: Design, procurement and installation of equipment to upgrade trash-removal systems and flow model testing. Also, installation of trash-rack cleaning machine, sluice gate and trash racks. Completed in 2004-’05.
Phase III: Complete rehab of the 8 units, which is scheduled to be finished in 2017. Work includes: new runner, rewinding the generator, stator restack, converting rotating exciter to static excitation and refurbishment of wicket gates.
In your community
Pollinator Planting Day – Bringing back the bees and butterflies
In May 2016, more than 160 people participated in “Pollinator Planting Day” at McAlpine Locks and Dam, which was co-sponsored by LG&E’s Ohio Falls Station. Some 600 plants were placed into the ground as part of a project to help reverse the decline of pollinators in the area – honey bees, monarch butterflies and others. These pollinators are responsible for more than 90 percent of the pollination needed for a healthy and productive agricultural ecosystem. Participants included Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and volunteers from the general public ranging in age from 12 to 70. Besides the planting of a variety of vegetation (purple coneflower, gray-headed coneflower, black-eyed Susan, swamp milkweed, common milkweed, butterfly weed, rattlesnake master, Maximilian sunflower and New England Aster), the event featured a presentation on the importance of pollinators. Visitors also had the opportunity to learn about the Ohio Falls Station and LG&E’s dedication to green energy.
Boy Scouts, LG&E Employees Complete Pedestrian Footpath near Ohio Falls
Pedestrians on Shippingport Island in Louisville now have easier access to fishing on the riverbank thanks to the hard work of Boy Scouts from Troop #167 and LG&E. The Boy Scouts — with help from employees at LG&E’s Ohio Falls Hydroelectric Station — worked to install a pedestrian footpath on the island to help one of the troop’s members achieve the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Employees from the company’s Cane Run and Mill Creek generating stations helped deliver railroad ties from the plants that will be used as a border for the footpath. Ohio Falls’ employees provided on-site support, and Nelson Tree Service donated two truckloads of mulch to surface the trail. The Army Corps. of Engineers, which owns the property, granted access to the site.
Ohio Falls Generating Station quick facts
- Net generating capacity: 80 megawatts
- Original startup date: 1927
- Fuel: Hydro
- Number of units in Service: 8