The use of hydropower has a long tradition in the Sauerland hills, a rainy low mountain range. Centuries ago, people already built countless barrages on the River Ruhr, the Lenne and its side arms. Hundreds of waterwheels generated the mechanical energy required for operating mills and hammer mills. In many cases, these water power plants were the starting point of enterprises that still exist today. In the late 19th century, the first modern hydropower plants were built, generating electric power via turbines connected to generators.
As early as 1905, the then Ruhrtalsperrenverein (Ruhr Reservoir Association) began to consider the use of hydropower, putting its first own hydropower plant at the newly built Lister Dam and Reservoir into operation in May 1913. However, as the capacity of this plant soon turned out to be insufficient, two more hydropower plants in Bamenohl and Lenhausen were constructed in the early 1920s. The hydropower plants at the Lister and Lenne rivers became the namesake of today’s company Lister- und Lennekraftwerke GmbH (LLK) in Olpe, a 100 per cent subsidiary of the Ruhrverband.