The construction of Kaw Lake and Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of October 24, 1962. Ground-breaking ceremonies for Kaw Lake and Dam were held on May 21, 1966, and the project was dedicated on May 22, 1976.
Kaw Lake and Dam are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
. The lake's surface area is approximately 38,000 acres at the top of the flood control pool. The top of the flood control pool is 1,044.5", while the normal operating level is 1,010". Kaw Dam is 9,466" long and 121" above the stream bed. It is 654 miles above the mouth of the Arkansas River.
The total cost of Kaw Lake and Dam was $111 million, including the construction of a foundation for a power house, tailrace guard, and penstock in the dam. The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority
purchased the substructure from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for $3.8 million in July of 1987. Construction began on August 29, 1987 and was completed in September 1989. The hydroelectric plant was declared commercial on September 26, 1989.
Operation of the Kaw Hydroelectric Plant is monitored via the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system at the OMPA office in Edmond, Oklahoma, which the Ponca City Utility Authority uses as back-up during off-hours. Operating as a run-of-river facility with daily ponding, Kaw Hydroelectric generates approximately 104 gigawatt hours of energy for the OMPA power supply system on an annual basis. The generator is nominally rated at 25.6 megawatts at 76" of gross head with a maximum rating of 36.7 MVA. The plant was constructed at a total cost of approximately $25 million.