We use a lot of water to generate electricity - and return almost every drop of it
Water is a vital resource for power plant operations, and Associated Electric Cooperative is committed to ensuring the quality of the small percent we consume, as well as the water we return. At all of our plants, Associated Electric fully complies with the Clean Water Act, which requires water and discharge permits.
Primarily a cooling source, water used for generating electricity for our members comes from the Mississippi River; groundwater wells; purchased water supplies; and the Thomas Hill Lake, which we built for our power plant.
We remove corrosive minerals that could damage equipment from the small amount of water we consume. This water is heated in a closed loop of tubes and used to make steam that turns turbines and then the generator to produce electricity.
But the bulk of the water is used to cool and condense that steam, and then returned to the source at slightly warmer, regulated temperatures.
This water, as well as all water that travels from Associated Electric’s plants and grounds, is monitored to ensure its quality and compliance with environmental regulations.
Associated Electric has won national recognition for its innovative practices, care of resources and improved water quality.
One of Associated Electric’s largest generating units can use about 330,000 gallons of water per minute on a hot day, returning 99 percent of that water to the source after its use.
That water is returned in as good or better condition than when it was withdrawn from the river or lake.