Apple River Falls Hydro plant is located seven miles downstream from Somerset, Wis., and is run-of-the-river type of operation. It was built at the turn of the century to provide electricity for the St. Paul area. At that time the plant employed 10 employees who lived in houses constructed alongside the plant. Today the plant is remotely controlled from Wissota Hydro. The facility is a diversion project, with the dam located about 2,000 feet upstream and around a bend from the power station. A flume diverts water at the dam to the station, bypassing the bend in the river.
The dam’s small flowage has 75-foot forested banks punctuated with sandstone cliffs, which create a spectacular view. The river upstream from the dam has a secluded wilderness flavor that is preserved by ordinances regulating shoreline development.
As a source of electricity, hydropower is advantageous in that the fuel costs nothing. In addition, hydro facilities have low operating and maintenance costs, and their useful lifetime is well over 50 years.
From an environmental perspective, hydro is a clean, renewable fuel, and Xcel Energy manages its dam operations to protect the aquatic environment and improve recreational opportunities.
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