U.S. sees potential to add 2,513 MW at federal facilities

The Bureau of Reclamation and Corps of Engineers estimate 1,230 MW of new hydropower capacity could be developed at 64 existing federal water resources sites, some of which already have hydro capacity. Refurbishment of some hydro plants could add another 1,283 MW.

The figures are presented in a just-released study of 871 federal water resource facilities, prepared at the direction of Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. (HNN 3/19/07) Government agencies assessed the facilities’ physical capacity for generation or expansion of generation, and their economic viability based on regional electric power rates. Study participants also developed tools to assess generating capacity and economic viability in the future.

Facilities studied include 653 sites under the jurisdiction of BuRec and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and 218 sites under the jurisdiction of the Corps. The study found no viable opportunities for expansion at the BIA sites. Pumped-storage facilities were not examined, as they fell outside the budget and time frame allowed for the report.

Based on economic conditions, BuRec found six sites with physical and economic conditions sufficient to warrant further exploration for additional hydro development totaling 53 MW. The Corps identified 58 sites based on similar criteria. It said 819 MW of capacity could be developed at 47 facilities that lack hydropower, and 358 MW could be added at 11 facilities with existing hydropower.

Refurbishment could add nearly 1,300 MW

The study concluded refurbishment could add nearly 1,300 MW at existing sites that the agencies said are already on their drawing boards. The report noted BuRec has 141 MW of capacity improvements planned for 2007 and beyond, while the Corps has an additional 1,142 MW of rehabilitation at existing facilities in planning or under way.

The report offers no recommendations for development. However, it attempts to provide a broad inventory and assessment of future hydropower development at federal facilities under the jurisdiction of participating agencies. The report notes most economically attractive sites have been developed and offers an assessment of remaining new generation opportunities.

BuRec, the Corps, and the Department of Energy prepared the report, �Potential Hydroelectric Development at Existing Federal Facilities.� The report includes tables of all facilities included in the study without existing hydropower, all facilities included in the study with existing hydropower, and final lists of BuRec and Corps facilities. An electronic copy of the report is to be posted on the Internet at www.usbr.gov/power.

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