The Dauphine in the French Alps is one of the most important sources of hydro-electric power in Europe. The first power station producing what is known in France as ‘white coal’ (houille blanche) was built at Lancey in 1869 by Aristide Berges (1833-1904). The production of steel in electric furnaces and of aluminium was pioneered in the region.
The principal museum of the industry is Hydrelec at Vaujany, near the plant below the Grand Maison dam, completed in the 1980s. It displays many artefacts relating to hydro-electric power generation in the early 20th century, including turbines, dynamos, voltage regulators and switchboards.