Major equipment improvements and maintenance at TVA’s Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant will require the temporary closure of the site’s popular visitor center through the summer. The Raccoon Mountain Visitor Center and parking lot closed on Monday, April 1, and will reopen in the fall of 2013, allowing TVA to create a safe construction area while the power facility is upgraded.
To offer Raccoon Mountain visitors a quality recreation experience during this period, TVA is developing a new “TVA history walking trail” at the Laurel Point Recreation Area near the upper reservoir. The history trail, to open this spring, will feature archived photos illustrating the agency’s legacy and lasting impact on the Tennessee Valley. Several of the visitor center’s outdoor informational displays also will be moved to Laurel Point.
TVA is partnering with the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) to keep Raccoon Mountain’s award-winning trail system open this summer, with some limited access near the visitor center. The Nickajack Reservoir public access point at the base of Raccoon Mountain also remains open. More information and directions to Raccoon Mountain are available at www.tva.gov/sites/raccoonmt.htm.
“Our goal is to provide as many recreation opportunities as possible in this popular area, while also keeping the public safe during our construction work,” said John McCormick, senior vice president of TVA River Operations & Renewables. “Given the very limited room in and around our Raccoon Mountain facility, there will be ongoing activity and equipment staging taking place around the visitor center.”
In addition to the work on the generating units inside Raccoon Mountain, TVA will upgrade massive electric cables running up the mountain to a switchyard adjacent to the visitor center. “While we have generating units offline for other work, it’s economical for us to do as many upgrades and maintenance as possible throughout the 35-year-old plant,” said McCormick. “Our goal is to position Raccoon Mountain to be a vital, reliable contributor to the TVA generation system for decades to come.”
Raccoon Mountain is a four-unit hydroelectric, pumped storage facility completed in 1978. The facility can generate about 1,652 megawatts, using water stored in a 528-acre mountaintop reservoir. Water is pumped from the lower Nickajack Reservoir to the upper reservoir during periods of low electric demand, then released through a large pipe leading almost 1,000 feet down inside the mountain to the plant’s four generators during high demand periods.