History of Hydroelectric Power

- Nearly 2000 years ago the Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat into flour

- In the 1700's, hydropower was broadly used for milling of lumber and grain and for pumping irrigation water

- Appleton, Wisconsin became the first operational hydroelectric generating station in the United States, in 1882, producing 12.5 kilowatts (kW) of power

- The total electrical capacity generated was equivalent to 250 lights

- Within the next 20 years roughly 300 hydroelectric plants were operational around the world

- The invention of the hydraulic reaction turbine created the sudden expansion of hydropower

- 40% of the United States' electricity was provided by hydroelectric power in the early 1900's

photo taken by Mr. Roy Schmidt; Minnesota Power, Hydropower Dam in Little Falls, MN

- The largest and last masonry dam built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was the Roosevelt Dam in Arizona between 1905-1911; its power output has increased from 4,500 kW to 36,000 kW

- In 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority Act was enacted into law

- The Hoover Dam first generated power in 1937, producing 130,000 kW

- By the 1940's, hydroelectric power supplied roughly 75% of the electricity used in the western United States and approximately one-third of the United States' total electric energy

- Still in use today, Niagra Falls was the first hydropower site developed for a vast quantity of electricity

- Nearly 10% of the United States' electricity came from hydroelectric power in 1997

- In the United States hydropower generates over 90,000 megawatts (mW); this could supply about 28.3 million customers (estimated population in 2001 was 284.4 million people) which is still less than 10% of the populace.