The full potential of the dam was realized in 1953 with the completion of the powerhouse and the start-up of three generators having a combined output of 14,100 kilowatts. Today, Philpott’s electrical power enters a sophisticated grid system which distributes the power where needed to satisfy electrical needs equivalent to that of 1,600 homes. Powerhouse personnel control a delicate balance between the upstream and downstream sides of the 920 foot long, 220 foot high dam. Three distinct levels or layers of the lake are maintained. The lower layer of the lake, the inactive storage pool, must remain full at all times to provide the minimum water pressure necessary to operate the power plant, even in low-water, drought conditions. The middle layer has more flexibility and is constantly adjusted for normal operation of the generators and to regulate flow of the Smith River. Proper stream flow ensures a healthy downstream ecosystem and provides an adequate water supply to communities dependent on the river. The top layer of the lake area is normally empty and is reserved for the collection and holding of potential flood waters during periods of heavy rainfall. At the top of the flood pool, Philpott Dam is holding back enough water to increase the lake size by 1000 acres. Without the dam and lake, flood waters would devastate communities along the river. Powerhouse personnel carefully control the release of the extra water in the flood pool through generation or by opening the dam’s sluice gates, making room for the next flood.
Learn More About Federal Hydropower