Opportunity for Power
The Saluda Hydro-Electric Plant
Situated below the Saluda Dam on the downstream side is the Saluda Hydro-electric Plant, a brick structure 250 feet long. The power plant was originally equipped with four 55,650 horsepower turbines, each directly connected to a 40,625 kva Westinghouse generator operating at 138.5 revolutions per minute.

Today, the Saluda Hydro Plant is the second largest hydro station on the SCE&G system (Fairfield Pumped Storage on Monticello Reservoir near Jenkinsville is the largest) and has a capability of 206 megawatts (one megawatt = one million watts).

Located next to the historic Saluda Hydro is McMeekin Station, Which went into operation in 1958. This 252-megawatt plant was named for Silas C. McMeekin, former president and chairman of the board of SCE&G. Although McMeekin Station is a coal-fired plant, it uses Lake Murray as a source of cooling water for its turbines. Water (nearly 7 million gallons each hour) is drawn from the bottom of Lake Murray which has a year-round temperature of about 52 degrees F. This unusually cool water has helped McMeekin rank high nationally in efficient generation.

A view of the world's largest power reservoir on September 30, 1930. In 1931 the lake levels were raised from 340 to 350 feet MSL, and two years later to 360 feet.

Why The Lake Levels Change
The Saluda Hydro is generally used today as a peaking facility, or in times when demands for electricity are high. The project is operated on a seasonal reservoir fill-up and drawdown basis.

The usual minimum drawdown is to 350 feet MSL and usual maximum elevation is 358 feet MSL. Lower levels of the lake normally occur in early December and then gradually increase to high elevations about the end of May.

In the event that high rainfall occurs when the lake is filled near capacity, the hydro project is operated in conjunction with the spillway gates, if necessary, to prevent the reservoir from rising above the 360-foot level. Operation of the hydro is controlled from the electric load dispatcher's office in Columbia. The spillway gates are operated on site. Aside from annual testing, opening of the spillway is a rare event and has only occurred five times since the dam was completed in 1930.
lake murray history
the land before the lake
clearing the way
the construction era
the world's greatest earthen dam
opportunity for power
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