Source: Knoxville News Sentinel | Morgan Simmons | May 15, 2016
The Melton Hill Dam Campground opened for the 2016 season on March 15, and by late last week the facilities seemed to have kicked into summer mode.
Many of the campsites and RV sites were occupied, and plenty of people were fishing above and below Melton Hill Dam. One intrepid weekend camper even braved the swimming area at the small, sandy beach.
There is more going on at the Melton Hill Dam Campground than meets the eye. Several years ago the Tennessee Valley Authority turned the entire recreation area into a demonstration site for state-of-the art energy efficiency and sustainable technologies. The grounds are peppered with solar panels, and when you take the short drive to the overlook above the dam, the first thing you see is a 70-foot-tall wind turbine.
“This is a sustainable recreation area unlike any in TVA’s system,” said Jerry Fouse, TVA’s recreation strategy and tourism development specialist. “In fact, there’s nothing like it in the U.S.”
Recycled building materials play a prominent role in making the Melton Hill Dam Sustainable Recreation Area eco-friendly. The roofing shingles and cinder blocks on many of the buildings are fabricated from coal ash, and some of the benches are built of recycled aluminum.
Two solar thermal water heating systems have replaced electric water heaters, and the streetlights are solar-powered. At the entrance of the Melon Hill Dam Sustainable Recreation Area is a TVA sign with LED lights powered by a solar panel and battery storage unit. And in a parking area just below the dam is a motorized, omnidirectional solar collector that tracks the sun much like a sunflower.
Electric vehicle charging outlets are available throughout the recreation complex, and for water conservation, the restrooms and bathhouses have been equipped with dual-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads.
The 70-foot-tall wind turbine at the overlook annually generates up to 2,000 kilowatt-hours of clean and renewable energy. Thanks to the combination of wind power and solar energy, the campground has net-zero energy requirements.
Students and researchers from major universities visit the campground and recreation area as an object lesson in clean energy. The Electric Power Research Institute’s Knoxville office monitors various power systems for energy efficiency and provides real time performance data at: http://22.214.171.124:8080/ meltonhill20121015/ dashboard. aspx#/Live.
Fouse said technologies tested at Melton Hill might be installed at other campgrounds and recreation areas in the TVA system.
“As the technologies change and improvements come on line, we can change out the solar panels and batteries,” he said. “Behind all these campsites, there’s a lot of education and research going on.”