Fed Report Identifies 70 Hydro Expansion Candidates

April 13, 2011

As the debate rages over what forms of energy generation pose acceptable risks and rewards, the Dept. of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the prospects for hydropower. The agency released a report March 31, 2011, that highlights 70 existing dam, diversion structure, and other waterway operations in 14 Western states that could be expanded to generate more electricity.

The potential increase in total power is modest, estimated to be enough to supply about 85,000 households. But such projects could have local appeal, depending on choices being made between various energy sources.

The highlighted facilities, chosen from 530 candidates, are in AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NE, NV, NM, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, and WY. For a quick overview, including a summary cost-benefit ratio, see:

The report is intended to be used as an initial screening tool to help focus future efforts. What do local officials and residents think? In Colorado, for instance, the legislature overwhelmingly approved action – in the heart of the nuclear energy crisis in Japan – to advance prospects for a new hydropower facility. Such sweeping approval likely would not have happened a few years ago. Journalists may serve as useful watchdogs as this form of energy experiences a resurgence, since it, too, has pros and cons