Requests for public power in Seattle began in the late 1890s and lead to the voter approval for building the Cedar Falls Water Supply hydroelectric dam plant in 1902. The first municipally developed and owned hydroelectric plant in the United States began operation in October 1904. The facility is situated one-half mile below Cedar Lake (later known as Chester Morse Lake) near North Bend in King County.
This run-of-the-river plant is a typical example of late nineteenth-century small-scale (750 kilowatt) low-head hydroelectric power technology. The Fries Manufacturing and Power Company began operating the Idol's Station on April 18, 1898, making it the first commercial hydroelectric plant in North Carolina involving long-distance power transmission, fourteen-miles distance at 10,000 volts. Idol's was an important power source for transportation, lighting, and industry in the Winston-Salem area.