Roles and Responsibilities
The Bureau of Reclamation has a long and successful history providing renewable, clean, reliable, and affordable hydropower to its customers. As the operating environment has evolved over the past century, Reclamation has adapted, leveraging new technologies and partnerships to meet the nation’s water and energy needs.
In total, Reclamation holds title to 76 hydroelectric powerplants. Of the 76, Reclamation operates 53 hydroelectric powerplants, comprising over 14 million kilowatts of installed capacity. Generation from the 53 plants rank Reclamation as the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the U.S., accounting for 15 percent of the Nation's annual hydropower output. Annually, Reclamation operated plants generate over 40 billion kilowatt hours of electricity (enough to meet the demand of 3.5 million U.S. homes), produce nearly one billion dollars in power revenues, and offset approximately 27 million tons of carbon dioxide. Since 1909, when our first power plant started operation, power revenues have provided more than $10 billion in repayment to the U.S. Treasury.
The remaining 23 plants are "transferred works" - the operation and maintenance of these plants is carried out by a non-federal entity, under the provisions of a formal operation and maintenance transfer contract. 5 of the 23 "transferred works" plants generate power that is marketed by Power Marketing Administrations. The 5 plants are: Deer Creek, McPhee, Towaoc, O'Neill, and San Luis.
The 53 plants owned and operated by Reclamation - as well as the 5 "transferred works" plants that generate power marketed by Power Marketing Administrations - are identified in the map below.
Find out more about the history of Reclamation's power program, the legislation affecting our projects, hydropower, the electric utility industry, and our research and development programs.
Hydropower plants are the most efficient energy-producing plants, operating at 85 to 90 percent efficiency -- more than twice that of fossil-fueled plants. Hydropower plants are important in meeting peak power demands because they can quickly adjust to changes in peak loads. Two important services we provide are voltage support and spinning reserve. Find out more about the services we provide and the customers we serve.
Also see our report titled "Reclamation's Role in Hydropower" for more information.