Potential Hydroelectric Development at Existing Federal Facilities

Potential Hydroelectric Development at Existing Federal Facilities


Prepared by: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of the Army, U.S. Department of Energy

This report complies with Section 1834 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005(Section 1834) that requires the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of the Army, and the Secretary of Energy to “jointly conduct a study assessing the potential for increasing electric power production at federally owned or operated water regulation, storage, and conveyance facilities.” The study participants included select staff of the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Western Area Power Administration, the Southeastern Power Administration, the Southwestern Power Administration, and the Bonneville Power Administration.

The study examined 871 existing federal facilities, with and without hydroelectric generating capability, assessing their physical capacity for generation or generation expansion and their economic viability based on comparisons with regional electric power rates. The report does not include any assessments of lands not under federal domain or consider new dam construction. In addition, the study participants developed and included assessment tools for generating capacity and economic viability that may be used and updated for future use.

Based on current economic conditions, the report only found potentially viable sites at facilities owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau of Reclamation found six sites that could demonstrate both physical and economic conditions sufficient to warrant further exploration for additional hydropower development. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified 58 sites based on similar criteria.  The total additional capacity at these sites is estimated to be 1,230 MW—enough to serve over 957,000 residences. In addition, there are opportunities for refurbishment of some facilities with existing hydropower, which could result in the addition of approximately 1,283 MW of generating capacity.

No recommendations for development are offered from this report. Rather, the report only attempts to give a broad inventory and assessment of future hydropower development at federal facilities under the jurisdiction of the participating agencies. Hydropower development on federal lands is a program with a nearly century-long history. Most of the economically attractive sites have long since been developed and continue to play an integral part of the Nation’s electric power grids. This report offers an assessment of new generation opportunities that may remain. The development of any site or project identified in this report would require a more comprehensive review of the environmental, economic and social impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and/or compliance with the requirements of the Federal Power Act.

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