Reclamation Contract for Study of Hoover Dam Turbines Focuses on Modifications to Increase Power Capacity at Low Lake Levels

Media Contact: Bob Walsh , 702.293.8421

For Release: March 21, 2006

As a result of the decline in Lake Mead's elevation since 1999, the Bureau of Reclamation, in consultation with power customers, has initiated a program to modify the turbines at Hoover Dam to increase their electrical generating capacity at lower lake levels.

In 2005, Reclamation installed new stainless steel wicket gates in Unit A-1, one of 17 commercial hydroelectric turbine generators at the dam. Changing the wicket gates, which control the amount of water flowing past the turbine, enabled the unit to be operated with an additional 8 megawatts of available capacity when Lake Mead's elevation is at 1,145 feet above sea level or lower.

Similar results are expected for two other units, one of which received new stainless steel gates this year, and another that will receive new wicket gates in 2007.

"The turbines at Hoover Dam were originally built with cast-steel wicket gates. Newer materials and designs allow for more water flow through the gates, which results in additional available electric capacity," said John Keys, Commissioner of Reclamation. "The lower lake elevations resulting from the drought make this is an opportune time to investigate and proceed with wicket gate modifications."

On March 3, 2006, Reclamation awarded a $195,648 contract to Precision Machine & Supply, Inc., located in Lewiston, ID. The company will conduct an analytical study to maximize the turbine system electrical generating capacity and performance of seven additional generating units at the dam, three on the Arizona side and four on the Nevada side.

After an evaluation of the analytical design study, Reclamation may opt to purchase additional wicket gates for one or more of the seven units. If all the contract options are exercised, the contract value will be more than $5 million over 3 years.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.