Boise Diversion Dam Powerplant Upgrade

Media Contact: Steven Jarsky , (208) 383-2266
David Walsh , (208) 378-5026

For Release: February 13, 2004

The final stage of a three year retrofit of the Boise Diversion Dam Power Plant begins this month. Bureau of Reclamation crews are busy installing the three turbine and generator assemblies that will begin delivering power this summer.

Boise Diversion Dam Power Plant is located 7 miles southeast of Boise on the Boise River. The dam was originally built in 1908 to divert water into the New York canal. The powerplant was added in 1912 to provide power to construct Arrowrock dam.

Reclamation Project Manager Steven Jarsky says that, although the power plant has undergone a complete facelift internally, it will retain its historic character when complete. Most of the powerplant building and the equipment on the main floor will be undisturbed. On the plant's main floor, crews installed electronic control panels out of view. The new hydro-generation works are smaller and will occupy the lower two floors.

"Boise Diversion Dam Powerplant is on the National Historic Register. From early on in the project we decided to try and retain as much of the original equipment as possible to retain the historic flavor of the plant," says Jarsky.

Beginning in June 2001, Reclamation crews gutted the turbines and generators and began work to replace the aging units with state-of-the art hydro-generation works. Most of the original equipment in the water turbine assemblies was replaced. But due to the unique design and character, many original parts were refurbished and put back into service.

Reclamation mechanical engineer Ernie Bachman has been working on the project since the start. He says the powerplant upgrade will blend in well.

"This place is almost like a museum. It's been interesting trying to bring new technology, new control systems, new governors in without changing the appearance too much. We've worked hard at doing that- a lot of the components are back behind the scenes or hidden so it doesn't affect the main generator floor here," says Bachman.

Bureau of Reclamation power managers say the 92-year-old plant was placed in reserve status in 1982 because of high operations and maintenance costs required for the outdated generation equipment. Bonneville Power Administration funded the powerplant upgrade shortly after the nationwide hydroelectricity price surge in 2000.

Jarsky estimates that the plant will be on line this summer. The power plant's three new generators will be able to produce a combined maximum generation of over 3.4 megawatts, enough power to heat and light approximately 2500 homes. The new generators will be remotely operated from Reclamation's control center in Emmett, Idaho.

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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.