The construction of the dam was the first of several large reclamation projects to be built along the Colorado River. It backs up the waters of the river to form Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States. In 1935 the 726-foot-tall structure was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt. To this day operation and maintenance of the dam and powerplant continues to be funded principally from revenues from power sales to 15 public utilities, municipalities and state agencies in Arizona, California and Nevada.
In the spring of 2001, Jim LaPointe, product group marketing manager for high-intensity discharge lighting at OSRAM SYLVANIA, watched a television program featuring the dam, lit at night in a yellow glow caused by high pressure sodium lamps.He contacted the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation to provide a potential lighting solution to enhance the dam's appearance.
The current trend in outdoor lighting features metal halide technology. Metal halide produces a white light that is more aesthetically pleasing in color and also is extremely energy-efficient. LaPointe proposed the SYLVANIA compact METALARC 1000-watt metal halide lamp, known for its superior color rendering. The lamps provide increased system efficiency, due to a smaller outer jacket, and also offer better control and better fixture optics.
Excitement about relamping the man-made wonder built rapidly, thanks to a team effort with HYDREL Lighting. Doug Foley, a commercial engineer at OSRAM SYLVANIA, worked with Bert Oberhansley, HYDREL technical support manager, to incorporate HYDREL into the project. HYDREL, a division of Lithonia, utilized their 7200 Series architect floodlighting system to do the job.
Oberhansley supervised the lighting design and layout. On April 18 he conducted a lighting mockup using four fixtures. After immediate approval by Hoover Dam officials, SYLVANIA LIGHTING SERVICES completed the installation. A two-man crew installed 32 HYDREL floodlights, replacing the 64 existing fixtures. The new lighting system at Hoover Dam reduces the wattage on the face of the dam by 10,440 watts, a 23 percent energy savings over the original system.
On the evening of May 30, key representatives from OSRAM SYLVANIA, HYDREL and editors from several industry trade magazines traveled to the Hoover Dam while attending LIGHTFAIR INTERNATIONAL in Las Vegas. Led by Harvey Boyce, a Reclamation public utilities specialist and third generation Hoover employee, all saw firsthand the immediate effects of the application.
The Hoover Dam's power and valve houses also will be relamped by SYLVANIA LIGHTING SERVICES shortly using SYLVANIA's metal halide lights and also will
result in a reduction in fixtures, power consumption and maintenance costs. The new lighting system also offers other benefits including colored filters which can be used to change the color and appearance of Hoover's façade for special events.
"We have received numerous positive comments on this new lighting system. In this era of electric power shortages in the western states, every kilowatt-hour saved by reducing our plant losses provides more energy to our consumers," said Boyce. "This unique structure will continue to fascinate film makers and over one million visitors annually thanks to the ingenuity, fortitude and commitment of its 5,000-man construction crew and the men and women who continue to operate and maintain it, along with the cooperation and expertise demonstrated by the OSRAM SYLVANIA and HYDREL team."
Hoover Dam and powerplant is without precedent the greatest dam of its day and is considered to be one of the top civil-engineering facilities in the world. Named for the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover strongly supported the construction of a high concrete dam on the Colorado River to control its flows, provide irrigation to nearby farmlands and offer a dependable water supply for Arizona, California and Nevada. He advocated that the project be self-supporting, financed primarily through the sale of hydro-electric power generated at the dam.