Water. We drink it every day, we clean with it, we swim in it, and for a number of years it helped generate power for Cleveland Cliffs. Today the Cataract Power Plant stands dormant, but Renewable World Energies is on the verge of bringing it back to life. Renewable World Energies is a company out of Neshkoro,Wisconsin that owns just over 20 hydroelectric facilities across four states.
"We believe very strongly in using renewable resources to make electricity. We think electricity is probably the most useful energy source we have," said Bill Harris of Renewable World Energies.
You might think that 80 year old technology would need some serious upgrades, but think again. The generator at the plant is just as efficient, if not more efficient as modern units according to Harris. The big change will occur to the propeller inside of the turbine because the facility used to operate only 10 to 12 hours per day.
"The flows that the turbine will see will go down so the turbine has to be designed to operate efficiently with those lower flows," said Harris.
Outside of the propeller, there will also be new protection installed in the facility that will protect the generator from grid which is a little backwards from the way things used to be. The facility, located off of the Escanaba River, is owned and operated by Renewable World Energies, but a familiar name will be buying the power it produces.
"If you are an UPPCO customer you will, in part, be getting some of this water produced power," said Harris.
If all goes well, the facility should start producing power once again in December.