Early Power Generation - The Ames Plant

Convinced that alternating current could provide a reliable power supply for mining operations, Lucien L. Nunn set out to make it happen. In 1891, a six-foot Pelton waterwheel, equipment developed by George Westinghouse, and a rough wooden shack built by Nunn and his brother Paul, became the Ames Power Plant. The equipment went into operation exactly as planned. It sent power surging over a 3,000-volt line up the mountainside to a gold mine. This was the first transmission in the world of long-distance high-voltage alternating current for commercial purposes. For this accomplishment L.L. Nunn has become known as the father of the electric power industry in the Intermountain West. 

Our generation resources have increased significantly from the early days. Along with our sister company Pacific Power; we have 74 generating plants, including thermal, hydroelectric, wind and geothermal units. Customers can participate in bringing more renewable energy facilities on-line by participating in our Blue Sky renewable energy program.

Get more information and photos from our past »

The original Ames Power Station.

The generator in the Ames Power Station.

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