August 24 is National Hydropower Day. For more than 100 years, hydropower has been supplying reliable, clean energy to millions of Americans and is often considered to be the original renewable energy source. I&M owns and operates six hydroelectric plants along the St. Joseph River in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.
The hydroelectric plants, four in southwest Michigan and two in northern Indiana, have been in operation since the early 1900s. Together, the six run-of-river plants generate more than 22 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power 15,000 homes a year.
Elkhart Hydroelectric Plant: The first dam was built in 1868. The existing dam and power house were completed in 1913. It was acquired by AEP/I&M in 1922. The hydroelectric plant has three generation units in operation.
Twin Branch Hydroelectric Plant: Located near Mishawaka, the plant has been in operation since 1903. It has eight generation units. AEP/I&M acquired the plant in 1922.
Buchanan Hydroelectric Plant: I&M also acquired the hydroelectric in 1922, but construction originally started on the structure in 1892 with the powerhouse completed in 1903. It has 10 generation units and was acquired by AEP/I&M in 1922.
Berrien Springs Hydroelectric Plant: It has 12 generation units and has been operational since 1908. AEP/I&M acquired the plant in 1922.
Constantine Hydroelectric Plant: Originally constructed in 1873, it was transformed into a hydroelectric facility in 1902 with four generation units. This plant was acquired by AEP/I&M in 1967.
Mottville Hydroelectric Plant: This is the “newest” plant in the I&M hydro system. The original land and land rights were first secured in 1906 and 1907, and additional land rights were acquired in 1922. The existing dam and powerhouse were finished in 1923 using four generation units.
At four of the hydroelectric plants, Buchanan, Mottville, Constantine and Elkhart, original equipment is still in operation. Several employees monitor and upkeep the six hydroelectric plants for I&M 24/7. For a fun explainer of how hydropower works, view this video as local children give us a lesson.