KENTUCKY DAM - GATEWAY TO THE TENNESSEE RIVER WATERWAY
At 8,422 feet, Kentucky Dam is the longest dam on the Tennessee River and a major generating plant in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system. The reservoir behind the dam is 184 miles long, the largest man-made lake in the eastern United States.
Kentucky Dam is the gateway to the Tennessee River waterway, one of the nine dams that make a navigable channel stretching 652 miles across Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee. About 50 million tons of cargo are carried on the river each year.
In addition, Kentucky Dam generates 222 Megawatts of hydroelectricity each year. A hydroelectric plant consists of a dam and powerhouse. The dam serves to hold back the water in the reservoir, and the powerhouse encloses the turbines and generators that produce electricity. When power is needed, water is released from the reservoir through a large pipe called a penstock and into a turbine. The force of the water spins the blades of the turbine, which is connected to a generator that spins, producing electricity. After passing through the turbine, the water reenters the river on the downstream side of the dam.