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 Hydropower at Fort Randall

On March 15, 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke over the radio from the White House to 600 people gathered in the Fort Randall power house and then tapped a Western Union key to signal Governor Sigurd Anderson to start the generators.  Anderson spun the giant turbine, and the dam’s first generator began producing electricity.

By June 30, 1956, the Omaha District Engineer reported that the Fort Randall project was 99 percent complete at a cost of $183 million, almost 2.5 times as much as the original cost estimate.  Within the preceding 12 months, the dam’s generators had produced more than 1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.  By the early 1970s, the dam was producing over 2 billion kilowatt-hours of electric power annually.

 Characteristics and Value

Characteristics and Value


8 Francis Turbines, 85.7 rpm

Nameplate Capacity

320 MW/40 MW each

Percent of NWO Capacity


Average Gross Head Available

117 feet

Number & size of conduits

8-28’ dia, 22’ penstocks

Surge Tanks

59’ dia, 2 per alternate penstock

Discharge Capacity

112 feet at 44,500 cfs

Average annual energy

1,733 M kWh

Hydropower Master Plan

The Omaha District has prepared a Hydropower Master Plan outlining the future requirements for sustaining our hydropower mission capability. A strategic master plan will guide future programming and funding for all hydropower sustainment, rehabilitation, and modernization requirements in a way that provides predictable funding and maximizes efficiencies to ensure the long-term resilience and reliability of this critical national infrastructure.

Hydropower Master Plan Book Cover