Hydropower Program

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About Us

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.

Reclamation holds title to 76 hydroelectric powerplants. Of the 76, Reclamation operates 53 hydroelectric powerplants, comprising over 14 million kilowatts of installed capacity. Reclamation is the nation’s second largest producer of hydroelectric power, generating 40 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year on average (enough to meet the annual needs of over 3.5 million United States households) and collecting over $1.0 billion in gross power revenues for the Federal government.

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 Department of Energy Power Marketing Administrations. The 5 plants are: Deer Creek, McPhee, Towaoc, O'Neill, and San Luis. In total, 58 Reclamation hydroelectric powerplants generate federal power, marketed by Power Marketing Administrations.

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.

 [Map showing location of Reclamation facilities in the Western United States]
Facility Map

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.

Organization and Staffing

The Bureau of Reclamation is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. At the head of our organization is the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. Our Power Resources Office develops and coordinates policy, provides advice, and assists in managing Reclamation's power program. Our Regional and Area Offices oversee the operation of our individual power facilities. We provide information about the organization, staffing, responsibilities, and contacts for these offices.

Below is a brief description of our Power Resources Office staff, and links to staff directories.

Manager, Power Resources Office
P.O. Box 25007, Bldg 67, 86-51000
Denver, CO 80225-0007
(303) 445-2931
FAX (303) 445-6693

Partnerships To deliver power to our customers, we partner with a number of organizations. In 1977, the responsibility for marketing and transmission of our power was transferred to the newly created Power Marketing Administrations. We work with Western Area Power Administration and the Bonneville Power Administration to deliver power to our customers. We maintain membership in a number of electric utility organizations.

New Initiatives

Explore Opportunities for Additional Capacity- There may be opportunities for Reclamation to add capacity through in river generation at existing facilities, upgrades at existing facilities, or efficiency enhancements of generation and pumping facilities. These opportunities will be catalogued and evaluated.

Increased Focus on Reclamation Power Facility Reliability - Reclamation’s hydro plants are a keystone in the reliability and stability of the Western Interconnected System. The reliability of our plants is and must continue to be the focus of our Operation and Maintenance (O&M) efforts. Reclamation plants are an average of 50 years old. Reclamation is exploring Reliability Centered Maintenance and Life Extensions in order to assure continued reliability of our plants.

Powerplant Facilities

We provide fact sheets for each of our powerplant facilities, as well as summary statistics for them.


We provide a variety of publications, and are actively working to add information about them to this web site. The current list of available publications, including Facilities Instructions, Standards and Techniques (FIST) Manuals, is available here.



Last Updated: 1/8/18