50 years later: Source of power generation gives life to a community

What began as an engineering project to meet the energy needs of a developing region became a catalyst for growth, economic prosperity and created a community all its own. In 1959, Duke Energy began construction on Cowans Ford Dam which impounded the Catawba River and created a massive body of water later named Lake Norman. After four years of construction, Duke Energy celebrated the dam’s completion and the start of commercial operations of the site’s hydroelectric station on September 30, 1963. The newly formed Lake Norman reached full pond in the following months.

The lake’s creation was part of a plan to not only power the massive turbines at Cowans Ford Hydroelectric station, but to also provide a water source for future Duke Energy power plants, including a possible nuclear site. That vision became a reality, and in the half century since reaching full pond, two other power plants sit on the shores of Lake Norman including McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville, N.C. which began commercial operations in 1981, and Marshall Steam Station in Terrell, N.C. which came online in 1965. As intended, the lake provides a source of safe, reliable and affordable power for the region. What had not been part of the early vision of the Duke Power engineers was the massive impact Lake Norman would have on the surrounding area.

Located about 20 miles north of Charlotte, N.C., Lake Norman is much more than just a lake. Hundreds of communities line its shores, residents proudly claim the area as home and the recreational activities are endless. It is an economic engine for the region and attracts thousands of visitors year-round to enjoy fishing tournaments, music festivals, sailing events and more. The lake also provides drinking water for surrounding municipalities.

With such growth and development, the lake’s many stakeholders have a shared responsibility to protect and preserve the resource. Duke Energy takes great pride in its role as a steward of Lake Norman. The company has extensive environmental programs to monitor water quality and maintain the health of the lake’s wildlife and aquatic habitats.

Now a half-century later, community leaders, elected officials, special guests and Duke Energy teammates gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lake Norman and its impact on the region. Through partnerships and collaborative efforts, Duke Energy is working to ensure the lake’s sustainability and the celebration of many more anniversaries.