The Tennessee Valley Authority hosted the first public tour of Wilson Dam in more than 20 years this morning, as a small group chosen in a random drawing received an inside look at the huge facility.
20 people out of thousands of applicants were shown through the dam’s powerhouse and control room, where electrical service begins for residents of the Tennessee Valley. Wilson Dam is one facility in TVA’s vast power generation network of hydroelectric dams, steam plants, solar installations, and nuclear generating facilities.
The TVA is currently celebrating their 90th anniversary since their founding in May 1933 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. It’s a special occasion leading TVA to open their facilities to a limited group for the first time since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks forced strengthened security measures at federal facilities across the country.
Jimmy Springer is the assistant plant manager at Wilson Dam, overseeing the 21 generating units that make use of water flowing from Wilson Lake to generate electricity. Springer said the plant capacity is about 600 megawatts, powering about 360,000 homes in the Shoals.
Will Rayburn is one of the people lucky enough to be selected for the tour, and said he is overwhelmed at the scale of it all. He was happy to learn he was selected for the tour after entering the drawing on a whim. Rayburn said he came to the Wilson Dam visitor’s center as a kid with his dad, before heightened security measures closed the dam to tours following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
Daniel Rose, the foreman responsible for the power plant’s control room, says he is excited that people are able to see what he does on a day-to-day basis, and how TVA provides its essential services to the valley. He said Wilson helps carry just a portion of electricity needs in TVA’s service area, and constant coordination between the various plants ensures those demands are met every day. It’s not a case of storing power up in a battery and using it later. People are using the electricity as soon as it’s generated.
We would like to thank TVA for inviting us along for the tour. It provided a fascinating inside look at TVA’s daily efforts to provide service to the people of the Tennessee Valley, as they have done for the past 90 years.