Hydropower Program

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Screenshot 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
A Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) is a contractual right given to a non-federal entity to use a Bureau of Reclamation facility (e.g. dam or conduit) for electric power generation consistent with Reclamation project purposes. A LOPP project must not impair the efficiency of Reclamation generated power or water deliveries, jeopardize public safety, or negatively affect any other Reclamation project purposes.

The Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Processes, Responsibilities, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard (D&S) 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.

The initial D&S was published in September 2012 and revised in February 2014 to incorporate Public Law 113-24 process requirements. The February 2014 revision was released as a Temporary Reclamation Manual Release with a concurrent public comment period. The current D&S, published in September 2014 incorporates internal and external comments submitted to Reclamation. Thank you to those parties that submitted comments.

"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 former Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. "This directive and standard provides a clear and understandable process to develop hydropower on Reclamation's dams and canals."

For additional information, visit the Lease of Power Privilege Website. The website offers guidance for potential developers, stakeholder groups, and Reclamation staff.

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.

The current release is available below. Beginning in FY15, previous releases will be made available on the Reports and Data website.

Bureau of Reclamation Renewable Update FY16 Q2

For More Information:

Hydropower Memorandum of Understanding
To promote reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable hydropower, the U.S. Department of the Interior (through Reclamation), the U.S. Department of Energy (through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy), and the Department of Army (through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for Hydropower (MOU), signed on March 24, 2010. The MOU provides for a long-term, collaborative working relationship, prioritizing similar goals and aligning ongoing and future renewable energy development efforts between the three agencies. In April 2012, the agencies published a two-year progress report to document MOU achievements.

To build upon the successes accomplished through this inter-agency partnership, the agencies renewed their MOU commitment on March 24, 2015 with a second phase of collaboration outlined in a Phase II Action Plan. The Action Plan details a second phase of collaboration, which seeks to support the Administration’s goals for doubling renewable energy generation by 2020 and improving federal permitting processes for clean energy as established in the President’s Climate Action Plan. Through continued collaboration and partnerships with other federal agencies, the hydropower industry, the research community, and numerous stakeholders, the agencies intend to continue working toward the objectives and goals of the MOU.

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) (News Release)

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).

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...

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



Last Updated: 5/11/16