Departments of Interior, Energy Award Over $9 Million to California-based Companies, Municipalities for Hydropower Projects

Media Contact: Pete Lucero, MP Region Public Affairs Officer, 916 978-5100

For Release: September 06, 2011

U.S. Department Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced nearly $17 million in funding over the next three years for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology.  Sixteen projects in 11 states were selected through a competitive grant process for their ability to contribute to the development of innovative technologies that produce hydropower more efficiently, reduce costs and increase sustainable hydropower generation. The funding will help advance the Obama Administration's goal of meeting 80 percent of our electricity needs from clean energy sources by 2035.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District will be awarded $5 million in Department of Energy funds for the Iowa Hill Pumped Storage project and $1.5 million for a new small powerhouse at Slab Creek Reservoir.  Palo Alto-based Electric Power Research Institute will receive up to $1.5 million in Department of Energy funds to deploy and test the fish-friendly Alden Turbine in Brookfield, New York to generate electricity while allowing safe fish passage. Natel Energy of Alameda will be awarded $300,000 in Department of Energy funds to develop a new type of powertrain for the Schneider Linear hydroEngine and $746,000 jointly funded by the Departments of Energy and the Interior to deploy and test the technology at a Bureau of Reclamation facility in Madras, Oregon.

These projects will advance sustainable renewable energy generation from small (less than 30 megawatts) hydropower resources, spur deployment of pumped storage hydropower, enhance environmental performance of hydropower, and test innovative, cost-effective technologies for hydropower development at low-head (less than a 30 foot drop) sites such as irrigation canals and non-powered dams. By allowing utility operators to pump water up to a dam or impoundment during periods of low electricity demand and release water during times of peak electricity demand, pumped storage hydropower improves the reliability of electric grids and helps increase the use of variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power.

"By improving and deploying advanced hydropower technologies, we can maximize our use of this proven clean energy resource, create jobs, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," said Secretary Chu. "Hydropower can be used to store energy to help utilities better integrate other sources of renewable energy like wind and solar into the grid, improving our energy security and diversifying our clean energy resources."

"This Administration is supporting innovative development of hydropower ? one of our largest renewable energy sources ? with an emphasis on reducing or eliminating environmental impacts on ecosystems," Secretary Salazar said. "These research and development dollars will help make hydropower technology more efficient and cost-effective as we continue to promote clean energy resources and build an American renewable energy economy in an environmentally responsible manner."

Read the full list of award winners.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) works to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from wind and water power. Learn more about EERE's investments to develop advanced hydropower technologies.

DOI's Bureau of Reclamation is the largest U.S. wholesaler of water and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the West. Reclamation is a contemporary water management agency with a mission is to assist in meeting the increasing water demands of the West while protecting the environment and the public's investment in these structures.

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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.

Relevant Link:

Complete List of Winners