Generating capacity: 64 megawatts
Cochrane Dam is a two-unit hydroelectric plant on the Missouri River, about eight miles downstream from Great Falls, Mont. The units have a total generating capacity of 64 megawatts. (One megawatt can satisfy the average energy needs of 750 households.)
Cochrane Dam, which began commercial operation in 1958, is 753 feet long and 59 feet high. Its 2-mile-long reservoir has a storage capacity of 2,700 acre-feet. The dam is classified as a “run-of-river” project because it can generate electricity using the water that flows down the river, without the need to store additional water supplies.
Cochrane Dam is one of eight hydroelectric plants and one reservoir along the Missouri and Madison Rivers covered under PPL Montana’s Project 2188 operating license. Through this license, PPL Montana works with state and federal agencies and private groups to implement a diverse array of environmental stewardship projects to protect habitats on or near the banks of the Missouri and Madison Rivers.
For example, PPL Montana contributed $30,000 toward the development of the Cochrane Dam Crossing, which allows for limited pedestrian access across the dam and links the north- and south-shore pedestrian-bike trails. The company contributes $2,000 a year toward ongoing maintenance.
Cochrane Dam, which is part of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark, is located between PPL Montana’s nearby Black Eagle and Ryan Dams. The company also operates the Morony and Rainbow Dams on the Missouri River near Great Falls. PPL Montana retains and manages as a natural area the lands it owns on the north shore adjacent to the Cochrane reservoir.