News Release Archive

New Hydroelectric Generating Unit Delayed at Black Canyon Diversion Dam

Media Contact: Annette Ross, (208) 378-5322, 06/16/2014 16:56
Chris Vick,

For Release: June 16, 2014

BOISE, Idaho – Construction of the new hydroelectric generating unit at Black Canyon Diversion Dam on the Payette River near Emmett, Idaho, will be postponed at least four months from the projected spring 2015 date in order for an independent engineering firm to test and verify Reclamation’s cost estimates.

This is a standard practice prior to making the final investment in such a large project. Reclamation’s cost estimate indicates that the price of the new hydroelectric generating unit may exceed its financial benefit.

"Throughout the process, all indications were that this looked like a financially feasible project that would boost power generation and provide added benefits by upgrading existing infrastructure," said Reclamation's Project Manager Chris Vick. "The latest cost estimate increased considerably from previous construction estimates; therefore, Reclamation is having an independent engineering firm provide a separate cost estimate."

If the independent estimate indicates the cost of construction is justifiable, work will proceed to complete the National Environmental Policy Act process and secure all necessary permits. Following successful completion of the NEPA process, the specification for the project will be issued to potential bidders.

Although the construction of the additional generating unit is on hold, some construction will still take place at the facility over the next few years. Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration plan to move forward with the design and relocation of a new power switchyard, design and construction of a new trashrack and trashrake system, upgrades to control systems at the dam, and construction of a new Administration building.

The proposed 12.5 MW hydroelectric unit will expand the capacity of the two existing 5 MW units to generate 105 million kilowatt-hours (enough to power 9,359 homes a year). The power produced will be integrated into the power grid to serve 10 irrigation districts in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon, as well as the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

Black Canyon Diversion Dam was completed in 1924 and serves as a multipurpose facility that provides irrigation water and hydropower.

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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.