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Natel, a company at Alameda Point, is developing small-scale turbines that can harness water flow to produce electricity without a dam. Rivers have been harnessed for the production of electricity since 1882. That’s when the world’s first hydroelectric dam was built across the Fox River in Appleton, Wisc. But dams are costly public works projects with negative environmental consequences, including the flooding of vast watersheds and blocking fish migration.