Truman and Stockton Dams produce hydropower for region: Celebrate National Hydropower Day

Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Aug. 24, 2023
Dam at Truman Lake shown with stoplog being lowered by crane on right hand end. Taken on June 21, 2023.

Stoplogs are being lowered in front of tainter gate two at Truman Dam near Warsaw, Missouri, on June 21, 2023. To the right end, see the powerplant portion of the dam where six intakes can produce hydropower.

Control panels in the Truman Powerhouse, Warsaw, Missouri, on June 21, 2023.

Control panels in the Truman Powerhouse, Warsaw, Missouri, on June 21, 2023.

With the National Hydropower Association declaring August 24, 2023, as National Hydropower Day, the Kansas City District wants to celebrate our hydropower plants at Harry S. Truman Lake and Stockton Lake in central Missouri. The NHA theme for this year: hydropower is the key.

What does that mean? Well, hydropower is key to cleaner communities. Hydropower production does not add to greenhouse gasses that contribute to higher temperatures on earth. Water runs through turbines in the dam and produces energy by turning the turbines with assistance from gravity.

“It’s one of the cleanest ways we can generate power,” said James Sandberg, operations project manager at Truman Lake, where six slant axis turbines produce hydropower.

Hydropower is key to contributing to local economies. The powerhouse at Truman Lake and Dam near Warsaw, Missouri, in the Osage River Basin, employs 22 workers who have specialties in hydropower production. These highly technical jobs lead to a highly trained workforce with a four-year program that takes a novice electrician to journeyman electrician or mechanic certification. Hydropower also requires supplies, materials and services that can be acquired through local sources. The plant at Stockton Lake and Dam near Stockton, Missouri, employs another five workers, said Sandberg.

Leaders emphasize safety training due to the large turbines, high weight capacity cranes, over 30 million watts of electricity running through the system at any one time.

“Everyone has to be highly attentive at all times,” said Brandon Ward, assistant superintendent of the Truman Powerhouse.

Not only is hydropower cleaner and a job creator but hydropower is key to a dependable clean energy future. By allowing us to produce energy from dammed up rivers, we can count on the availability of this energy source for years to come. Even in times of moderate drought, water still collects from rainfall and snow runoffs and remains available to produce power.

“With both power plants coming online more than 40 years ago, we have spent considerable time and energy keeping current with the most updated technology and with cybersecurity,” said Marshall Miles, now deputy operations project manager at Harry S. Truman Lake and a past superintendent of the Truman Powerplant.

The way that hydropower complements other forms of clean energy and the conventional power plants is important. While solar power can produce high volumes of energy during daylight hours and wind farms produce power when the wind is blowing, hydropower remains an on-call source that can be timed to add power to the grid when other sources have limited availability. This adds to the diversity of the nation’s grid to provide a more stable system to provide power at all times.

USACE funnels the hydropower produced to the Southwestern Power Administration, known as SWPA. The federal administration markets hydroelectric power generated by federal dams to public entities in several states in the south and southwest.

“We have a very close relationship with SWPA. We communicate with them several times each day and when they want our hydropower and we have the water to produce it, we can fill their requirements,” said Sandberg.

The plants at Truman and Stockton combine to be rated to produce 232 mega-watts at one time. An average power output produced in recent years is over 449 thousand mega-watts per year. This is enough to provide power for about 60,000 homes for a year. All this from two reservoirs that provide flood risk reduction for many of people and businesses in the Osage River Basin. The lakes also serve as source of water supply, water quality, recreation, and fish and wildlife management, said Ward.

We find it easy to agree with the National Hydropower Association: hydropower is indeed the key. The key to cleaner communities, the key to local job creation and the key to a dependable clean energy future. Happy National Hydropower Day!