On September 24, 1959, Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes inaugurated the Dickerson Generating Plant, a structure built for a total of $62 million by the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco). The initial height measured approximately 400 ft. Subsequently additional towers were added, the tallest of which reaches 700 ft.
Situated on the banks of the Potomac (straddling the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal), the plant uses the river’s waters to cool its coal-fired generators which produce a net capacity of 849 megawatts. The cooling water discharge returns to the Potomac River after flowing through a 900-by-30-foot canal. In 1991, this canal was transformed into a warm-water canoeing and kayaking whitewater course for Olympic training. In December 2000, Pepco sold the plant to Southern Company of Mirant. Today, the plant is owned and operated by NRG Energy. It is still operational, but plans have been announced to close it permanently in 2017.