"With its strange situation (surrounded by high mountains), this city has the advantage of a beautiful port and considerable shipping, but also the disadvantage that once on land one cannot get to the city without great inconvenience. This is because the weather in the vicinity of these high mountains is extremely unpleasant and rainy. There has even evolved an expression that is always rains in Bergen, and we have not experienced anything to counteract this saying." (a quote by the Dutch professor Fabricius after a visit to Bergen in ca. 1780).
Much rain, a steep drop and nearness to Bergen meant that the power-making potential of the Samnanger water system was exploited early. Samnanger was thus one of the first power-producing municipalities in western Norway. With its subsequent expansion and new power stations, about 400 gigawatts of electricity per hour were produced on average each year. This is enough to meet the energy needs of 25,000 households.
Few other places in Hordaland, or even the whole country, get as much rain as in the Samnanger mountains. The mountains here simply attract wetness. The weather station on Kvitingen has continuous measurements all the way back to 1900, and the measurements have documented several records for the county. The station is therefore much used as a reference for the rainfall in western Norway.
The large coastal waves that crash down on the islands west in the sea gather their energy from storms and winds all the way out in the North Atlantic Ocean. The most common place of origin is nonetheless the North Sea. When these waves break over the skerries and islets along the shore, or on the rocky outermost islands, their energy is released. This takes the form of turbulence in the water and sea spray up on land. Can the enormous energy contained in the waves be exploited?
As early as 1906 the Matre and Haugsdal waterway was bought up by the businessman Blauuw from Bergen; the first “waterfall speculator” in the Matre area. He immediately resold it to Fr. Hiorth, who transferred all the rights to the company Matrefaldene in 1908. Behind A/S Matrefaldene were German interests, Badische Anilin und Sodafabrik, which wanted to start production of saltpetre fertilizer with nitrogen and electricity.
The large mountain area between Modalen, the Voss communities and Sogn is one of the finest mountain pasture areas in West Norway. In older times this area was called Steinslandsheimen, in our times it has acquired the name Stølsheimen. Power development and protection interests have been opposed here. The core area of Stølsheimen has now been protected as a landscape protection area, while some of the oldest mountain farms have been flooded. A register in the 1970s comprised almost 40 mountain farm settlements in the central area of Stølsheimen, belonging to Modalen, Høyanger and Vik municipalities.
In 1923 Bergenshalvøens Kommunale Kraftselskap (BKK) expropriated large areas for power plants and development of hydropower started soon afterwards. Dale power station with the two first aggregates, each of 14 MW was put into operation on 17 November 1927. In the supply reservoir in Storefossen 5152 cubic metres of concrete were cast, and a modern and well-equipped power station was built.