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Hydropower Program

Screeenshot of new hydropower video.
Reclamation's New Hydropower Video
- Hydropower is a renewable and reliable resource providing clean energy to the western United States. It is the nation's largest renewable energy resource and the Bureau of Reclamation is the second largest producer in the United States. Watch the new Reclamation video on hydropower. Video...

Bureau of Reclamation Sustainable Energy Strategy
A new sustainable energy strategic plan released on November 14, 2013 will help guide the Bureau of Reclamation into the future as the agency continues its vital role in developing and supporting renewable energy production for the nation's power grid.

"Reclamation continues to successfully generate renewable, clean and affordable hydropower as energy needs consistently grow across the western United States," Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. "It is only natural that Reclamation play a key role in facilitating the additional development and integration of renewables such as hydropower, solar, wind and geothermal to help meet the western energy demands."

Six long-term strategic objectives to further Reclamation's sustainable energy mission were developed to help guide Reclamation in this important endeavor:

  • Increase renewable generation from Reclamation projects.
  • Facilitate non-federal development of renewable energy projects.
  • Increase energy savings and conservation at Reclamation projects.
  • Support integration of variable non-dispatchable renewable resources in the United States electrical grid.
  • Increase benefits of renewable energy through technological innovation.
  • Improve management efficiencies related to the implementation of renewable energy and energy savings projects.

Reclamation Sustainable Energy Strategy

Lease of Power Privilege Website
Published in September, 2012, the Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Processes, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard establishes the process requirements and charges associated with the non-federal development of hydropower at Bureau of Reclamation facilities.

The Lease of Power Privilege website offers guidance for potential developers, stakeholder groups, and Reclamation staff. The website hosts the Directive and Standard as well as LOPP flowcharts, example and guidance documents, and contact information for further inquiries. The laws and memorandum governing Reclamation’s right to contract a LOPP are provided, as well as a catalog of current LOPP projects.

Quoting Kerry McCalman, Senior Advisor Hydropower, “This website makes the Lease of Power Privilege process accessible to potential developers and stakeholder groups. This effort builds on Reclamation’s commitment to sustainable hydropower development and environmental stewardship.” 

Lease of Power Privilege Website

Bureau of Reclamation Renewable Update
Released quarterly, the Bureau of Reclamation Renewable Energy Update identifies Federal and non-Federal renewable energy projects currently online or in development on Reclamation land, facilities, and water bodies and highlights current Reclamation renewable activities. The update provides Reclamation-wide and regional summaries, renewable energy portfolios, and project updates as well as a listing of WaterSMART Grant projects that have a renewable energy component.

Bureau of Reclamation Renewable Update

Cover of the report - Site Inventory and Hydropower Energy Assessment of Reclamation owned conduitsAdditional 1.5 Million Megawatt-hours of Renewable Energy Could Be Generated through Hydropower at Existing Reclamation Sites -As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above strategy for American energy, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle announced today that the department has identified 373 existing Bureau of Reclamation canals and conduits that have the combined potential of generating an additional 365,219 megawatt-hours of hydropower annually. News Release, Report

Departments of Energy and Interior Announce $26.6 Million in Funding to Develop Advanced Hydropower Technologies - U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced $26.6 million in funding for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology, including pumped storage hydropower. This funding is focused on development of innovative technologies that can produce power more efficiently, reduce costs and increase sustainable hydropower generation at sites not previously considered practical. More...






For More Information:

Hydropower Memorandum of Understanding
A Memorandum of Understanding for Hydropower was signed on March 24, 2010 between the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Army (DOA). The purpose of the MOU is to help meet the Nation's needs for reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable hydropower by building a long-term working relationship, prioritizing similar goals, and aligning ongoing and future renewable energy development efforts between DOE, DOI, and DOA through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Hydropower Resource Assessment At Existing Facilities
As a component of the MOU for Hydropower, and recognizing the current national emphasis on renewable energy and its extensive existing water infrastructure systems, Reclamation has produced the Hydropower Resource Assessment at Existing Reclamation Facilities (Resource Assessment) to assess hydropower development at existing facilities to contribute to nationwide renewable energy strategies.

Hydropower Resource Assessment at Exisiting Facilities (Final Report - March 2011)

Site Inventory and Hydropower Energy Assessment of Reclamation Owned Conduits (Supplement to the "Hydropower Resource Assessment at Existing Reclamation Facilities" Report - March 2012)

Hydropower Energy and Economic Analysis Tool” is an integral feature of the report that is being made available to the public.  This tool is a model that allows interested parties to conduct reconnaissance level hydropower assessments with minimal data inputs (location, flow and head).

Lease of Power Privilege
The Bureau of Reclamation has finalized the Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Processes, Responsibilities, Timelines and Charges Directive and Standard. It defines the LOPP process and how Reclamation will enhance working relationships with its project partners.

"Through these leases, Reclamation is able to work with non-federal entities and project beneficiaries to increase the amount of renewable hydropower produced in meeting the growing energy needs of the nation," said Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. "This directive and standard provides a clear and understandable process to develop hydropower on Reclamation's dams and canals."

The directive and standard provides clear guidance and timelines on LOPP requirements, assigns roles and responsibilities within the organization for LOPP development, sets a standard methodology across Reclamation for the LOPP charges and identifies all potential charges for developers.

A LOPP is used when Reclamation chooses to lease its right to develop power at one of its facilities when that power development doesn't interfere with other authorized project purposes.

The Directive and Standard has been revised to incorporate new process requirements set forth in Pub.L. 113-24: Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, and has been released as a Temporary Release. External comment period closed March 28, 2014. Reclamation is currently preparing the disposition of comments.

The Temporary Release can be viewed at on the Temporary Reclamation Manual Releases website. See FAC TRMR-61.

Map of the United States showing the location of Reclamation hydropower facilities


Last Updated: July 31, 2014