Knowledge is power

“What’s the difference between this turbine and the one at the last plant?

“How do the wicket gates work?”

“Why are all the pipes in this place painted in bright colors?”

If you were on one of my early plant tours with me in 2012, you would have heard these questions and many more. As an industry outsider, the Raccoon Mountain pumped-storage facility and Chickamauga hydroelectric plant in Tenneessee were my first glimpses of what hydropower really is beyond the technical articles I had been editing.

At that point, the above were all fair questions to someone who was still getting a grasp on the basics of hydro. I learned that day just how welcoming this industry is to new faces as more than one engineer stepped up to explain the basic mechanics of the turbine. Not for a moment did I feel stupid or ignorant; instead, I was a student in a control room full of willing and ready teachers.

Standing at the intake structure for the Niagara tunnel this last October, I was more confident in my understanding of hydropower. Regardless, I didn’t try to hide the smile on my face when an engineer on the tour with me offered to explain what was occurring after hearing I was a journalist.

I’ve said before that our willingness to teach and to engage those outside our industry is part of what makes hydro unique. I would also venture to say that it is the responsibility of the industry to ensure that we are constantly educating stakeholders, students, and community members about what hydro is and why it is the best, most reliable form of renewable energy out there. This responsibility extends to the classroom where students are learning how their local plants work and where their electricity comes from. It reaches to university programs that send their students to HydroVision International each year to soak up the latest advances and best practices. It shows during town hall meetings, organized to educate and inform the local community on the impact the proposed hydroelectric development will have on their neighborhood, employment rate, and economy.

Knowledge is power, after all.

On the flipside, every teacher needs a student.

As I curate the list of industry events on, the student in me is thrilled to see all the possible opportunities I have to expand my knowledge of the industry and meet many of you in the process.

The HydroVision International team also shares that excitement while developing an information-rich conference program for you to enjoy in Nashville this July.

We also have put together a list of hydro topics that gives you the ability to browse through our news and magazine content.

As we learn together, we at want to stay on top of the opportunities offered in the industry, be they events, workshops, classes, seminars. If you are aware of an industry event not currently listed on our Events page, please send it to me at

Also, we have recently add a page of frequently asked questions to the site, offering information on everything from the basic differences between turbines to how to obtain professional development hours. Check it out here, and please send any additional questions to be at

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Bethany Duarte formerly was associate editor of Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazines.

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