Partnerships Generate Support for Hydropower Resources

Two-year Progress Report Highlights Accomplishments under Interior-Energy-Army MOU

Media Contact: Adam Fetcher (DOI), 202-208-6416
Dan DuBray, 202-513-0574

For Release: April 16, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy to develop American energy, the Department of the Interior, the Department of the Army, and the Department of Energy have significantly advanced potential development of hydropower generation in the United States, according to a two-year progress report on the implementation of an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on hydropower.

Assistant Secretary of the Interior -Water and Science Anne Castle released the report today at the National Hydropower Association Conference meeting in Washington.

"Through collaboration and partnerships among federal agencies, the hydropower industry, the research community, and numerous stakeholders, we are succeeding in advancing the development of hydropower as a clean, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable energy source," Castle told NHA conferees. "From assessing opportunities for new generation on existing Federal facilities to developing tools to get more energy from the same amount of water, we are working on many fronts to increase the potential of the largest source of renewable energy in the country."

The two-year progress report highlights the collaborative accomplishments of the three departments since an MOU was signed in March 2010 to advance development of hydropower generation as part of President Obama’s comprehensive energy strategy. The report details progress made toward achieving 13 high-level goals named in the MOU and 17 specific action items for helping to meet those goals. The report is available at

"Hydropower can be further harnessed to support this country's future energy," said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. "By using new technologies and taking advantage of unpowered existing facilities, more clean power can be generated. Working together, we are advancing a sustainable hydropower agenda that will create jobs and address energy needs across America."

The interagency cooperation has enabled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Department of Energy to coordinate their hydropower research and development efforts. This collaboration has led to advances in hydropower technology, streamlining of the licensing and permitting process, assessment of the potential for adding hydropower generation at existing facilities, and the development of a database for all existing U.S. hydropower infrastructure.

Specific accomplishments include:

  • Completing numerous publicly available assessments of different hydropower resources, including the construction of a database for all existing U.S. hydropower infrastructure;
  • Collaborating to develop tools for optimizing the operation of hydropower facilities and evaluating the potential for state-of-the-art upgrades and modernizations;
  • Funding research projects that aim to develop and demonstrate new hydropower generation technologies and minimize the environmental impacts of hydropower facilities;
  • Working together to examine the potential effects of climate change on water available for hydropower generation at federal facilities;
  • Coordinating a stakeholder-driven, basin-scale opportunity assessment in the Deschutes River basin in the Pacific Northwest, with the goal of identifying opportunities for increasing both hydropower production and environmental services;
  • Establishing a Federal Inland Hydropower Working Group, including staff from 15 federal entities that are involved with hydropower in order to share information and increase collaboration;
  • Hosting research and development workshops on key areas for the development of new hydropower generation;
  • Initiating several new studies on pumped storage and the ancillary grid services that can be provided by hydropower; and
  • Improving the licensing process for the development of new, privately owned hydropower generation at existing federal dams and water infrastructure.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy signed the MOU to help meet the nation's needs for hydropower by building a long-term working relationship, collaborating on similar goals and aligning ongoing and future renewable energy development efforts.

To read the two-year progress report, please visit

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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:

Reclamation's Hydropower Program