Hydropower Generation Opportunities Increasing at Bureau of Reclamation Facilities

Share Article

New technologies and power development opportunities are spurring growth in hydropower generation at reservoirs and canals throughout the western United States.

New generation technologies may open up more areas for hydropower generation that non-federal developers can use for the generation of green, renewable hydropower for their projects and communities.

Hydropower generation capacity has increased at Bureau of Reclamation facilities in the West with the addition of Lease of Power Privilege development by non-federal partners, development of new technologies, and improved efficiencies at existing Reclamation powerplants. Through LOPP, more than 111,200 megawatt-hours of hydropower may be generated annually, enough electricity for more than 9,858 households.

Seven projects are currently operating under a LOPP with six additional projects currently in development. These projects have an installed capacity of more than 55,000 kW. LOPP can take place when Reclamation leases its right to develop hydropower at its facilities to non-federal developers. Reclamation finalized the LOPP process requirements in September 2012. These requirements provide clear guidance and timelines, assign roles and responsibilities, set a standard methodology and identify potential charges for developers.

“Using existing dams and conduits for new hydropower generation provides a new source of reliable and sustainable energy in the west that minimally impacts other natural resources,” said Reclamation Senior Advisor for Power Kerry McCalman. “New generation technologies may open up more areas for hydropower generation that non-federal developers can use for the generation of green, renewable hydropower for their projects and communities.”

Reclamation is testing the deployment of hydrokinetic generators in canals and recently completed testing a 25 kW hydrokinetic generator designed by BAE Systems in the Roza Canal near Yakima, Wash., through a facility use agreement with Instream Energy Systems. A hydrokinetic generator generates power where water is moving in a river or canal. Planning for the next phase of the study is underway. In this phase, multiple hydrokinetic units will be deployed through the canal.

Generation efficiency is improving at Reclamation hydropower facilities through uprating generator capacity, replacing turbines and optimizing how the power is dispatched.

A generator uprate increases the generating capacity and involves an electrical and mechanical review of the capability and limits of all the power equipment. Through uprating, Reclamation has gained 2,894 MW of additional capacity from our existing powerplants. For example, Reclamation completed two uprates at Flatiron powerplant (units 1 and 2) near Loveland, Colo., in 2010 and 2012, yielding four MW of additional capacity.

Replacing turbines results in an improvement of overall unit efficiency. New turbine runner designs are more efficient than previous designs which results in an increase of power generation with the same volume of water or the same level of power generation with a reduced volume of water. Since 2009, Reclamation has replaced 20 turbines with an average increase in efficiency of approximately 3-percent. This equates to about 200 million kWh of annual generation or enough energy for more than 17,700 households. There are four turbine replacement projects scheduled through 2017.

Reclamation is also implementing a generation optimization system at its power facilities. A computer-based optimization system allows Reclamation powerplants to operate more efficiently, maximizing generation per acre foot of water. The system has been installed at Black Canyon Control Center in Idaho. It will provide dispatch recommendations for Black Canyon, Palisades, Minidoka and Anderson Ranch powerplants. The system is expected to provide an additional 10-30 million kWh of annual generation at the facilities operated out of the Black Canyon Control Center. Installations at other facilities are scheduled through 2016.

If these systems were installed at all Reclamation powerplants, 400 million to 1,200 million kWh of additional annual generation could be achieved.

“Reclamation will continue to work with our customers to take advantage of these opportunities when it shows economic value,” added McCalman.

In 2011 and 2012, Reclamation identified a potential for 1.565 million MWh of additional electricity that could be generated annually at existing Reclamation dams and conduits.

Annually, Reclamation powerplants generate more than 40 billion kWh of electricity, enough to serve approximately 3.5 million homes. To learn more about Reclamation facilities, please visit http://www.usbr.gov/power.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Peter Soeth
Follow us on
Visit website