More than 120 years ago, Dr. Gill Wylie had an idea that would change the Carolinas forever. Inspired by electrification efforts at Niagara Falls, he wanted to harness the power of the Catawba River to provide electricity to support the manufacturing industry near his hometown, Chester, S.C.
He built Old Catawba Hydroelectric Station, which included a rope-driven water wheel, and electrified nearby mills near Fort Mill, S.C. Not long after, he partnered with financier James Buchanan Duke and engineer William States Lee to start Duke Energy’s predecessor, Southern Power Company, with Great Falls Hydroelectric Station.
Wylie went on to become the first president of Southern Power Company, and Old Catawba was later replaced and renamed Wylie Hydro Station in his honor. The plant is still going strong today as one of 13 Duke Energy hydro plants on the Catawba-Wateree river. Together, these plants provide about 819 megawatts of renewable energy that can be started in a matter of minutes to meet customer demand.
Duke Energy Lead Engineering Technologist Lynne Dunn took over the company’s Instagram account on Feb. 22 to give followers a behind-the-scenes look at this historic plant. Dunn is a hydro operations expert, and she’s responsible for making sure several plants operate in line with federal regulations. Here’s a recap of her day.
Harnessing the power of water, Duke Energy first began in the Carolinas as a hydroelectric company. Wylie Hydro Station first being operating in 1925 and provided electricity to the area’s emerging textile industry. The station was actually named for Dr. Gil Wylie, first president of Southern Power Company, a predecessor company of Duke Energy. . . . #hydropower #dayinthelife