FOLSOM, Calif. (KTXL) — Since 1955, the towering concrete and earthen walls of Folsom Dam have held back the waters of the South Fork and North Fork of the American River, but does holding back that water create any power?
Folsom Dam was built as part of the Central Valley Project which extends 100 miles from the foothills of the Sierras to the coastal range and includes dams, reservoirs, canals and powerplants.
Folsom Dam was mainly built for flood control and has saved the Sacramento area at least $4.7 billion in flood damage since 1987, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
Folsom Lake, which sits behind the dam, can hold up to a million acre-feet of water or enough water to fill nearly half-a-million Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
With all that water though, it provided a good opportunity to create some power, so the Folsom Powerplant was built by the Army Corp of Engineers in 1956, according to Parks and Recreation.
All total the three generators that make up the powerplant produce 198,207 kilowatts of power per day or enough power to light 2 million household lightbulbs per hour, according to the bureau.
In 2020, Sacramento County used 11,063,247,071 kilowatt-hours of power, according to the California Energy Commission.
The plant only turns on during the day when power is at its highest cost and over the course of a year the plant will run for approximately 3,488 hours or around 145 days and create a total of 691,358,000 kilowatts per hour, according to the bureau of reclamation.