Cedar Falls Hydro is a partial peaking operation on the Red Cedar River and is remotely operated by the Wissota Hydro plant. The original Cedar Falls timber dam was replaced with a concrete structure in 1910. The dam created Tainter Lake, an 1800-acre flowage formed by the impoundment of the Red Cedar and Hay Rivers. Tainter Lake is characterized by rather steep, wooded shorelines, especially near the dam. In 2005, a rubber dam was installed on the crest of the spillway to replace flashboards that had been used previously for maintaining water levels in the reservoir. The rubber dam allows operators to maintain required water levels during all seasons of the year.
Cedar Falls is a modified run-of-the-river operation. The original Cedar Falls timber dam was replaced with a concrete structure in 1910, with new generators added in 1912 and 1915. Since then, the plant has operated largely unchanged, a testimony to the durability of hydro plants.
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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