Bath County Pumped Storage Station

Bath County Pumped Storage StationCradled in Virginia's rugged Allegheny Mountains, the world's most powerful pumped storage generating station quietly balances the electricity needs of millions of homes and businesses across six states.

The Bath County Pumped Storage Station, which went into operation in 1985, is jointly owned by Dominion and the operating companies of the Allegheny Power System, and managed by Dominion Generation. This mammoth station was cited as one of the nation's most outstanding 1985 engineering achievements. The earth and rock fill moved to construct the dams and other project facilities, if piled up, would create a mountain 1,000 feet (305 meters) high. Enough concrete was poured to build 200 miles (322 kilometers) of interstate highway.

The station consists of two large reservoirs — one 1,262 feet (385 meters) higher than the other, a massive power house and the huge tunnels that connect them. When demand is low, water is pumped from the lower reservoir to the upper one.

When demand is high, valves permit water to run through the tunnels to the lower reservoir at a rate as high as 13.5 million gallons (852 cubic meters/second) per minute, turning six turbine generators.

The water level in the 265-acre upper reservoir can fluctuate as much as 106 feet when the unit is operated.

About the Environment

The Bath County Pumped Storage Station is nearly surrounded by the George Washington National Forest and was built in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.

Occupying a relatively small amount of land, it has had minimal adverse effect on the environment.

Flows to both streams, Back Creek and Little Back Creek, are supplemented by storage from the station reservoirs. This significantly improves stream flow during periods of drought and enhances the environment for fish and other aquatic life.

The extreme fluctuations in water levels in the two reservoirs make them unsuitable for recreation. However, there is a separate 325-acre (1.32 sq. kilometers) public Recreation Area, described below. 

Recreation Area and Ponds

Dominion Generation and Allegheny Energy jointly own the Bath County Pumped Storage Station Recreation Area, and it is operated by Dominion Generation. The FERC License Number is 2716. The Recreation Area is open to all members of the public without discrimination. The area has facilities for fishing, non-power boating, picnicking, swimming, hiking and camping.

Dominion Virginia Power opened the Bath County Power Station Recreational Ponds, near Back Creek and just downstream from the lower dam, in 1989. There are two ponds (27 and 45 acres).

Brief Facts about the Station

Net Generating Capacity: 3,003 megawatts

License Issued: January, 1977

Commercial Operation: December, 1985

Owners: Dominion (60%), Allegheny Power System (40%)

Lower Reservoir Dam:

  • 135 feet high (41 meters)
  • 2,400 feet long (732 meters)
  • Contains 4 million cubic yards (3.1 million cubic meters) of earth and rock fill

Lower Reservoir:

  • 555 surface acres (2.25 sq. kilometers)
  • Water level fluctuates 60 feet (18 meters) during operation

Upper Reservoir Dam:

  • 460 feet high (140 meters)
  • 2,200 feet long (671 meters)
  • Contains 18 million cubic yards (13.8 million cubic meters) of earth and rock fill

Upper Reservoir:

  • 265 surface acres (1.07 sq. kilometers)
  • Water level fluctuates 105 feet (32 meters) during operation

Water Flow - Pumping: 12.7 million gallons (801 cubic meters/second) per minute

Water Flow - Generating: 13.5 million gallons (852 cubic meters/second) per minute

Turbine Generators: Six Francis-type 500-megawatt units manufactured by Allis Chalmers

Maximum Pumping Power (per unit): 642,800 horsepower (479,300 kilowatts)

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