Hydropower Program

Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP)

General Information

A Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) lease of power privilege (LOPP) is a contractual right given to a non-federal entity to use a Reclamation project facility site (e.g., dam or conduit) for hydroelectric power generation consistent with Reclamation project purposes. A LOPP project must not impair the efficiency of Reclamation generated power or water deliveries, impact the structural integrity of the Reclamation project, jeopardize public safety, or negatively affect any other Reclamation project purpose.

Non-Federal Hydroelectric Power Development

Both Reclamation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are authorized to permit the use of Reclamation project sites to non-federal entities for the purposes of hydropower development – Reclamation via a LOPP and FERC via a License. In the interest of mutual cooperation for the timely development of non-federal hydropower, the two agencies have collaborated to define jurisdictional boundaries and responsibilities. The outcomes of this collaboration are memorialized in two Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreements. Per the MoU documents, each Reclamation project site is subject to only one permitting process; non-federal entities seeking to utilize a Reclamation project site for the purposes of hydropower development would be required to obtain either a Reclamation LOPP or FERC License – but not both.

Date Memorandum of Understanding Purpose
1981 MoU between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the Department of Energy and the Water and Power Resources Service (Reclamation) of the Department of the Interior MoU establishes a process to promote the non-Federal development of hydroelectric energy at existing Water and Power (Reclamation) facilities.
1992 MoU between the Federal Regulatory Commission and the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation MoU establishes procedural steps and a set of rebuttable presumptions to guide the analysis of the agencies' respective jurisdiction over hydro development at Reclamation sites.

The general premise of the 1992 MOU is that unless otherwise specified in law, Reclamation project sites authorized for Federal hydropower development are within the exclusive jurisdiction of Reclamation and would be developed via the LOPP process. Reclamation project sites not authorized for Federal hydropower development are within the exclusive jurisdiction of FERC and would be developed via the FERC licensing process.

As specified in law, the following non-federal hydropower project types are within the exclusive jurisdiction of Reclamation and would be developed via the LOPP process: (1) small conduit hydropower development on Reclamation projects; (2) pumped storage hydropower development exclusively utilizing Reclamation project reservoirs; and (3) hydropower development on Federal projects constructed pursuant to the Water Conservation and Utilization Act.

Note that comprehensive, non-federal projects utilizing multiple sites may require both a LOPP and FERC License in the circumstance that one site is within Reclamation’s jurisdiction and a second site is within FERC’s jurisdiction. This circumstance may apply to non-federal pumped storage projects utilizing a Reclamation project reservoir authorized for federal hydropower development and a second non-Reclamation project reservoir within FERC’s jurisdiction.

See LOPP Processes, Responsibilities, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard Paragraph 4 (linked below) for additional information regarding Jurisdiction for Non-Federal Hydropower Development on Reclamation project sites.

Initiating Non-Federal Development

To initiate non-federal hydropower development on a Reclamation project site, developers are instructed to submit either a Formal Request to the appropriate Reclamation Regional Director or a Notice of Intent to FERC. Developers are free to choose which agency to contact. Once the Formal Request or Notice of Intent is received, the two agencies will convene to determine the appropriate permitting authority. Once the appropriate permitting authority is determined, the developer will be notified, and the project will proceed through the appropriate permitting process(es).

Reclamation regional maps and Regional Director contact information is available here.
Information regarding the FERC License process is available here.

The Reclamation regional contacts provided below are able to assist with questions related to Reclamation project sites. Note that a Formal Request example document is provided in the LOPP Flowcharts, Example and Guidance Documents section below.

Reclamation Regional Contacts

Reclamation Region Representative Contact Information
Missouri-Basin and Arkansas-Rio Grande-Texas Gulf Tyson Deters Email: tdeters@usbr.gov
Phone: 406-247-7794

Upper Colorado-Basin Norm Wolf Email: nwolf@usbr.gov
Phone: 801-524-3896

Lower Colorado-Basin Rebecca (Becci) Rogers Email: rrogers@usbr.gov
Phone: 702-293-8091

California-Great-Basin Wes Harrison Email: jharrison@usbr.gov
Phone: 916-979-2448

Columbia-Pacific Northwest Florence Webster Email: fwebster@usbr.gov
Phone: 208-378-5332


LOPP Process, Responsibilities, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard

The LOPP Processes, Responsibilities, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard (D&S) establishes the process requirements and charges associated with the non-federal development of hydropower at Reclamation project facilities authorized through a LOPP. The LOPP Processes, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard and appendices are available below.

The initial D&S was published in September 2012 - with revisions made in February 2014 to reflect Public Law 113-24 authorities  and again in December 206 to clarify LOPP development timeframes and annual charge methodology. A minor revision was made in October 2023 to ensure compliance with Reclamation Manual formatting and content requirements, reflect Public Law 117-58 authorities, clarify LOPP process requirements, and shift existing LOPP solicitation and proposal requirements into a new Appendix (Appendix E).

FAC 04-08 Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Processes, Responsibilities, Timelines, and Charges
Appendix A Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation
Appendix B Lease of Power Privilege Study Considerations
Appendix C Example of a Categorical Exclusion Checklist
Appendix D Standard Lease of Power Privilege Rate Methodology
Appendix E Minimum Reclamation Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Solicitation and Proposal Requirements

General questions related to general LOPP policy and the D&S may be directed to:

Reclamation Office Representative Contact Information
Denver Power Resources Office Michael Pulskamp Email: mpulskamp@usbr.gov
Phone: 303-445-2931
Denver Power Resources Office Clark Bishop

Email: cbishop@usbr.gov
Phone: 303-445-2908


LOPP FlowchartS and Guidance Documents

LOPP Major Milestone flowcharts are available below. Each flowchart reflects the LOPP process as outlined in the Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Processes, Timelines, and Charges D&S.

Document Type Title
LOPP Flowchart Solicitation through Selection of the Lessee (Dam/Reservoir)
Solicitation through Selection of the Lessee (Conduit)
Preliminary Lease through Issuance of the LOPP Contract
LOPP Contract Administration
Guidance Document Formal Request for Development
Acceptance Letter

Current LOPP Development Catalog

A catalog of all online LOPP projects is available here: LOPP Development Spreadsheet.

A catalog of all Federal and non-federal hydropower projects currently online or in development on Reclamation projects - including LOPP projects, is available in the Bureau of Reclamation Hydropower Generation Summary on the Reclamation Hydropower Program homepage.

Hydropower Resource Assessments

Reclamation is committed to facilitating the development of non-federal hydropower on Reclamation projects - via the LOPP or FERC permitting process. Acting on this commitment, Reclamation has undertaken a number of activities including the completion of two resource assessments, identifying technical hydropower potential at existing Reclamation facilities. The two assessments - as well as other developer resources - are available on the Hydropower Program Reports and Data page and linked below:

A number of Resource Assessment sites have been developed by non-federal entities and currently in operation, with many more sites in some stage of active development. The file linked below identifies those Resource Assessment sites currently available for development.

Guiding Legislation

The basic policies governing Reclamation's right to contract a LOPP are set forth in a number of laws. These laws are shown below. Note that project and/or facility - specific legislation may apply. A catalog of all Reclamation projects and facilities, including specific authorizing legislation, is available here.

Date Act Purpose
1902 Reclamation Act Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to develop irrigation and hydropower projects in the 17 Western States.
1906 Town Sites and Power Development Act Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to lease surplus power or power privileges.
1939 Reclamation Project Act Act extends the contract term to 40 years for sale of power or lease of power privileges, giving preference to public entities.
1939 Water Conservation and Utilization Act Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to develop water conservation and utilization projects in the Great Plains and arid and semiarid areas of the United States.
2013 Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act An act to authorize all Bureau of Reclamation conduit facilities for hydropower development under Federal Reclamation law, and for other purposes.
2014 Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 Section 3087 of Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to lease power privileges at projects constructed pursuant to the Water Conservation and Utilization Act.
2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Sections 40335 and 40336 of the Act amend Reclamation LOPP authorities related to pumped storage projects utilitizing mutiple Reclamation reservoirs.

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Last Updated: 11/13/23