Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
My Decisions Impact Michigan, the U.S. and the World

The movement of water can be used to make electricity. Energy from water is created by the force of water moving from a higher elevation to a lower elevation through a large pipe (penstock). When the water reaches the end of the pipe, it hits and spins a water wheel or turbine. The turbine rotates the connected shaft, which then turns the generator, making electricity. The turbine and generator change mechanical energy into electrical energy. The water is a renewable resource, since water is returned to the reservoir through rain. The animation on the right shows how a hydroelectric dam works.

Hoover Dam

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Hydroelectric power is used many places in Michigan. One example is the hydroelectric plant at the Soo Locks. This plant supplies power for the operation of machinery at the locks. The surplus is sold to private power companies. A famous hydroelectric dam can be seen in the picture to the left. This is the Hoover Dam, which is located on the Colorado River near Las Vegas, Nevada. The dam provides power for use in Nevada, Arizona and California. It generates enough electricity to serve 1.3 million people.

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