How the Osage Energy Center Works

Bagnell Dam holds back water from the Osage River to create the Lake of the Ozarks. This stored water serves as “fuel” for the Osage Energy Center, located inside the dam.
When the plant is operating, water flows from the lake through a large pipe called a penstock, which carries the water to large water wheels called turbines. Each turbine is connected to a generator by a 30-inch diameter steel shaft. A generator is a device in which a type of magnet spins inside a stationary coil of wire. As the pressure of water flowing through the plant turns the turbine, the turbine turns the magnet inside the generator, producing electricity.
When excess water flows into the Lake of the Ozarks, such as during times of very heavy rainfall, the floodgates are used to pass this excess water downstream.

Source: Ameren Photo Archive

Did you know?
  • Bagnell Dam was the largest - and last - major dam in the U.S. to be built with private investment.
  • The Bagnell Dam actually got its name from a railroad man who formed his own town and then named it after himself. William Bagnell platted a town bearing his name on June 30, 1883. The owners of the new dam chose the Bagnell name, and “Bagnell Dam” was born.
  • Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world, covering 86 square miles in four counties.
  • The dam holds back 600 billion gallons of water.
  • Bagnell Dam is one-half mile long, rising 148 feet high from bedrock. That’s comparable to a building 12 stories high and seven blocks long.
  • Cost of construction: $30 million. More than $100 million has been spent since the initial construction to add generators, anchor the dam to the bedrock below to ensure protection against a “maximum” flood, modernize the plant’s control facilities and replace six turbines.
  • In a typical year, the Osage Energy Center produces more than 500 million kilowatthours of electricity - enough to supply the needs of nearly 42,000 average households.
  • By using the natural energy of falling water, the Osage Energy Center saves our nation about one million barrels of oil or one million tons of coal each year.
  • The Lake is a little more than 100 feet deep at its deepest point. The Lake level reading is the height of the surface of the Lake above sea level. The full pool elevation of the Lake is 660 feet above sea level.

Licensing information: FERC Order Approving License for Bagnell Dam and Osage Energy Center.
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