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How Hydro Electric Power works -- Article by Xcel Energy

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How Hydro Electric Power works -- Article by Xcel Energy

Hydroelectric generation begins with a forceful, rushing river or with a dam that holds back a river and diverts flow. Falling water flows through propeller-like turbines and causes them to rotate. The rotation of these turbines spins generators to produce electricity. The amount of electricity generated from each unit is determined largely by volume of water flow and "head," or the height from the water surface at the dam reservoir to the water surface downstream.

 

 

While the fuel is free and hydroelectric power produces no air emissions or waste, its use is limited because of the natural hydrological conditions it requires. There also can be ecological concerns, such as the impact on fish and other wildlife. We manage our dam operations to protect the aquatic environment, and at some facilities, improve recreational opportunities.

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