On September 30, 1882, the first hydroelectric power plant began operations along the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin. A hydroelectric power plant uses moving water to generate electricity. Paper manufacturer H.F. Rogers was able to generate enough electricity to run the plant, a nearby building, and his own house.

Today, there are dozens of hydroelectric power plants throughout the world, almost all of them controversial. Hydroelectricity is considered a renewable resource, because water is continually replenished in the water cycle. However, the dams on which many of these facilities depend can devastate the local environment.

The world’s largest hydroelectric power plant is the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in Hubei Province, China. In order to build the dam, more than one million people had to move and 140 towns were flooded.

controversial
Noun

questionable or leading to argument.

dam
Noun

structure built across a river or other waterway to control the flow of water.

devastate
Verb

to destroy.

electricity
Noun

set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and flow of electric charge.

environment
Noun

conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

flood
Verb

to overflow or cover in water or another liquid.

generate
Verb

to create or begin.

hydroelectricity
Noun

power generated by moving water converted to electricity. Also called hydroelectric energy or hydroelectric power.

manufacture
Verb

to make or produce a good, usually for sale.

power plant
Noun

industrial facility for the generation of electric energy.

renewable resource
Noun

resource that can replenish itself at a similar rate to its use by people.

Noun

movement of water between atmosphere, land, and ocean.

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