Departments of Energy and Interior Award Nearly $1.8 Million for Washington Hydropower Projects

Media Contact: Adam Fetcher (DOI), (202) 208-6416
Kelly Bridges , (208) 378-5101

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.

Kennewick, Washington-based Percheron Power will receive $1.5 million jointly funded by the Departments of Energy and the Interior to install the nation's first Archimedes Hydrodynamic Screw hydropower system in Potholes East Canal. The system may eventually be deployed at low-head sites throughout the Columbia Basin Project and in other man-made waterways. Also, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, will be awarded nearly $300,000 from the Department of Energy to re-design the Sensor Fish, a data collection device that measures movement, acceleration, rotation, and pressure changes on the device as it passes through a hydropower turbine, providing more information on the forces that a fish may encounter. The new Sensor Fish device, which is expected to be smaller and cheaper than previous devices, could be deployed through a wide range of model and prototype turbine testing, allowing for improved designs safer for fish passage.

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 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 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.

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