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Minidoka Project

Minidoka Dam

The Minidoka Project, one of the first dam-building projects authorized by Congress, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Completed in 1909, Minidoka Dam Powerplant was the third hydroelectric plant to be built by the federal Reclamation Service (known today as the Bureau of Reclamation).

The original purpose of the Minidoka Project was to store water from the Snake River for irrigation and other uses. Today, more than 4.1 million acre-feet of storage in eight Reclamation reservoirs supplies water to irrigate more than 1.2 million acres of crops. An area once described as high sagebrush desert has been converted into miles of productive farmland.

 

History
Allen E. Inman Powerplant Workers from the Minidoka Dam Minidoka Dam Powerhouse

The original powerplant at Minidoka Dam originally housed five 1.4 megawatt generating units that provided power to pump irrigation water to high benchlands south of the Snake River. Reclamation added a generating unit in 1926 and another in 1942 to feed the growing demand for electrical power.

In the early 1980s, Reclamation identified the Minidoka Powerplant as a potential source for additional hydroelectric power, but lack of funding delayed further development until 1993, when the Bonneville Power Administration joined Reclamation in the $62 million construction project. The new plant provides 20 megawatts of additional electrical generating capacity and features state-of-the-art equipment.

Construction was no easy task. The replacement powerplant and access bridge needed to be esthetically compatible with the original buildings. Habitat downstream had to be preserved, and a 5-acre wetland was developed to replace habitat lost through construction.

On May 6, 1998, the plant was named after Allen E. Inman, a Reclamation manager and driving force behind new construction. Allen was killed with seven other Reclamation employees in a 1997 plane crash.

Today's Allen E. Inman powerplant continues to meet its objectives of providing clean, renewable electricity for irrigation, municipal, and industrial uses without disturbing the delicate natural resources of the Snake River.

Last Update: October 30, 2013 9:11 AM