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Study: Hydropower potential at existing U.S. dams tops 12,000 MW

The United States could add 12,600 MW of hydropower without building any new dams, according to a recently-released Energy Department study.

The study by the Energy Department and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory focused on 54,000 of the 80,000 existing U.S. dams and concluded that adding hydroelectric power-generating equipment to 100 of them would produce a gain of 8,000 MW.

U.S. hydropower capacity currently is about 100,000 MW.

In another study, the Interior Department identified 70 non-powered dams operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that have "reasonable potential" to produce electricity and create jobs. If hydropower were added to all 70 sites, up to 226 MW of renewable power capacity could be added to the grid, the study showed.

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