News Release Archive

Reclamation Issues Final EA/FONSI on New Hydropower Unit at Black Canyon Diversion Dam

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 378-5212, 10/25/2011 08:01
Gretchen Fitzgerald,

For Release: October 25, 2011

The Bureau of Reclamation has selected the construction of a third hydropower generating unit at Black Canyon Dam as the preferred alternative outlined in a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Black Canyon Dam is located on the Payette River about 30 miles northwest of Boise, Idaho.

The new hydroelectric generating unit was considered the preferred action alternative after careful review of public and agency comments, and taking into account potential security and environmental impacts described in the Draft Environmental Assessment (Draft EA). Reclamation has determined that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not required. The comment period for the Draft EA was June 27 - July 29, 2011. The two alternatives included: constructing a third generating unit, and a no action alternative.

"This new generating unit will provide clean and renewable energy," Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said today. "The project will contribute to Idaho's economic health and create jobs for the region."

A construction contract could be issued in late 2012. The new unit will produce an additional 10 to 12.5 megawatts, enough to supply about 9,360 homes. It is also designed for efficient use of water by generating power during high flow periods as water passes through the turbines rather than over the spillway, where potential power generation is lost.

The $40 million construction project, funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, should start in 2013 and be completed in about two years. This is the first hydroelectric generating unit added to the Federal Columbia River Power System in over 30 years. The FCRPS includes 31 federally-owned hydro dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, providing a source of clean renewable energy to just about one third of electric consumers in the Pacific Northwest. Black Canyon Dam, built in 1924, is a multipurpose facility that provides irrigation, hydropower, and recreation.

For more information, contact Ms. Gretchen Fitzgerald, Bureau of Reclamation, Snake River Area Office, 230 Collins Road, Boise, ID 83702-4520 or call (208) 383-2231. A copy of the Final EA and FONSI is also available online at:

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

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