A larger process that benefits Oklahoma

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

Inside the powerhouse … Looking across the powerhouse floor inside historic Pensacola Dam. During the 2013 summer tour season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), over 4,000 people saw this sight on the free tours of this dam, offered by GRDA. One goal of the tours is to help introduce more people to the Grand Lake area.

Inside the powerhouse … Looking across the powerhouse floor inside historic Pensacola Dam. During the 2013 summer tour season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), over 4,000 people saw this sight on the free tours of this dam, offered by GRDA. One goal of the tours is to help introduce more people to the Grand Lake area.

Over 4,000 visitors – an average of 244 per week – taking part in a total of 655 tours; that sums up the 2013 tour season at the Grand River Dam Authority’s Pensacola Dam.

For many years now, GRDA has been offering the free tours of Oklahoma’s oldest hydroelectric facility, which created Grand Lake in 1940. Today, Pensacola Dam continues to be an important part of GRDA’s overall electric generation portfolio, which includes hydroelectricity, coal, gas and even wind resources.

Since 2010, those free tours – offered Memorial Day to Labor Day – have originated from the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center, located on the west end of the dam, in Langley. Tours include an educational video detailing the dam’s construction, as well as a trip down into the powerhouse where GRDA has been producing reliable, renewable electricity for Oklahoma for over seven decades.

Though the tours are free, they do help GRDA fulfill an important part of its overall mission: “to assist in area economic development.” After all, when visitors come to the dam, they not only learn about hydroelectricity, but also about the lake region, and the wonderful recreation and tourism opportunities that surround the shores of both Grand and Hudson.

In fact, over the course of this summer, GRDA has welcomed visitors from 12 different countries, 44 states and 51 counties in Oklahoma. While many of those may be frequent visitors to the region, many others could have experienced the area for the first time and are already planning a return trip the region.

Welcome to Pensacola Dam, Grand Lake and Northeast Oklahoma… GRDA’s team of tour guides during the 2013 season played host to over 4,000 visitors, many who might have been visiting the region for the first time, but hopefully not the last. From left: Roy Heginbotham, Brylee Harbuck, Lori Layer, Tabatha Gilpin, Jackie Jaggars and Dick Jaggars.

Welcome to Pensacola Dam, Grand Lake and Northeast Oklahoma… GRDA’s team of tour guides during the 2013 season played host to over 4,000 visitors, many who might have been visiting the region for the first time, but hopefully not the last. From left: Roy Heginbotham, Brylee Harbuck, Lori Layer, Tabatha Gilpin, Jackie Jaggars and Dick Jaggars.

It is all part of a larger process that benefits Oklahoma – at no cost to tax payers – in a positive way. While the dam produces low-cost, reliable electricity that helps business and industry grow, it also creates the 46,500 surface acres of Grand Lake that support a thriving recreation and tourism industry in Oklahoma. Finally, the tours help to introduce hundreds of potential new visitors, and residents, to the lakes region each year.

It’s all part of the GRDA Power for Progress story in Oklahoma that.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable electricity touches 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.

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