Photo of Dale Hollow Dam, with a dam with water pouring through the turbines, people in lower left looking up at it.



Nashville District
Published Jan. 12, 2024

The Nashville District Hydropower Program began under the Flood Control Act of 1938, which authorized minimum provisions for hydropower at flood control projects.  The first power plant constructed in the Cumberland River Basin was Dale Hollow, with the first unit coming online in 1948.  Over the next thirty years eight other power plants were constructed, ending with Laurel which was completed in 1977.  In all, the Nashville District operates and maintains ten dam projects in the Cumberland River Basin, nine of which are multi-purpose projects with hydroelectric power plants, and remotely monitors (with the ability to operate) one power plant at the Sault Ste. Marie project in Michigan.  The nine power plants in the Cumberland River Basin have a total of 28 generating units with a current aggregate generating capacity of more than 927 megawatts (MW).  The Nashville District provides management, operation and maintenance of all electrical, mechanical, and structural features at these projects, including the power plants, dams, spillways and high voltage switchyards.

The Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA) markets the power from these plants through negotiated power sales and operating agreements with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and regional utility companies.  The power produced at these projects is delivered to 25 preference entities that serve 209 preference customers in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. 

On average, the Nashville District power plants produce over 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year.  Based on an average annual household consumption of 10,715 kWh as provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, that is enough energy to support 304,000 homes annually.


Test Lab

  • Performs services to the hydropower community

  • Test power plant insulation systems in the generators, transformers, air circuit breakers, and oil circuit breakers in the districts nine power plants

  • Maintain the remote control equipment for four remote power plants and three master plants including the communication paths

  • Compile the revenue data from the nine plants daily and send the information to SEPA (South Eastern Power Administration)

  • Investigate all electrical faults, trouble shoot problems as needed

  • Provide some design work for equipment replacement items

  • Test protection relays for all plants and line relays

  • Made up of three engineers, four technicians, one coop and one field office assistant

Public Tours

Depending on construction, availability, and environmental factors, public tours of Nashville District facilities are available. Please contact the resource manager for the lake/dam to see if tours are offered. If tours are offered, please keep in mind the following guidelines: 

  • All facilities are ADA accessible.
  • Tour size is limited and is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Only visitors with approval and confirmation will be permitted on the tour. No substitutions or additions are allowed.
  • All participants over 16 years of age must provide photo identification upon arrival for the tour.
  • Visitors may not carry packages, backpacks, or other containers during the tour.
  • Photographs and video recording of the interior of the power plant is strictly prohibited.
  • No high-heel, open heel shoes, including clogs and crocs or bare feet, will be allowed on a tour. Tennis shoes are recommended.
  • All children ages 16 and under must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or responsible adult during the tour.
  • Any increase in threat conditions can result in approved tours being cancelled with little notice. We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

Privacy Act

Information is solicited in accordance with Title 10, US Code Section 552 and is used to provide information necessary in preparation for a scheduled tour of the facility and to verify positive identification of visitor. Solicited information is voluntary; however, failure to provide information may result in denied visitor access. The information provided to the Corps will not be retained digitally or by hard copy after the scheduled tour date.

Hydropower Projects

Kentucky Lock
Kentucky Lock is located near Gilbertsville, Kentucky, 22.4 miles from the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers.  It is 20 miles east of Paducah, Kentucky. The 184-mile reservoir created by...
Wolf Creek Dam
History of Wolf Creek DamThe Wolf Creek Project was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and the Rivers and Harbor Act of 1946.  Construction of the project, designed and supervised by the U.S...
Old Hickory Dam
HistoryThe Old Hickory Lock and Dam, located on the Cumberland River at mile 216.2 in Sumner and Davidson Counties, Tennessee, and are approximately 25 miles upstream from Nashville, Tenn. The City of...
Martins Fork Dam
HistoryMartins Fork Lake is located at river mile 15.6 on the Martins Fork of the Cumberland River in the scenic mountainous terrain of Harlan County, 13 miles southeast of the town of Harlan,...
Laurel River Dam
Laurel River Lake is a key project in the development of the Cumberland River Basin.  The lake is located in southeastern Kentucky, encompassing portions of Laurel and Whitley Counties. In the 1960's,...
J. Percy Priest Dam
J. Percy Priest Dam was built at mile 6.8 on the Stones River, a tributary of the Cumberland.  The lake is located in north central Tennessee, encompassing portions of Davidson, Rutherford, and Wilson...