U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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Hydropower Upgrades to Yield Added Generation at Average Costs Less Than 4 cents per kWh – Without New Dams

November 4, 2009

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced up to $30.6 million in Recovery Act funding for the selection of seven hydropower projects that modernize hydropower infrastructure by increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impacts at existing facilities. The expanded hydro generation projects have estimated incremental costs of less than 4 cents per kWh on average.

The selections announced today will deploy innovative technologies such as high-efficiency, fish-friendly turbines, improved water intakes, and advanced control systems in order to increase power generation and improve environmental stewardship. Under Secretary Kristina Johnson made the announcement while visiting Voith Hydro Inc.'s manufacturing plant in York, Pennsylvania.

"One of the best opportunities we have to increase our supply of clean energy is by bringing our hydropower systems into the 21st Century," said Secretary Chu. "With this investment, we can create jobs, help our environment and give more renewable power to our economy without building a single new dam."

DOE sought cost-shared projects that upgrade existing hydropower facilities without requiring significant civil works modifications to dams, allowing for them to be developed quickly to help create jobs and stimulate the local economy. The solicitation sought two classes of projects: those larger than 50 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity and those of 50 MW or smaller.

The selected projects will increase generation by an estimated 187,000 MWh/year, or enough to meet the annual electric usage of more than 12,000 homes. This incremental generation is virtually carbon free, and it represents a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of over 110,000 tons per year compared to electricity from the average U.S. grid. Additionally, upgrading existing hydro facilities in this way is a very inexpensive way to provide renewable energy: the estimated cost of the added generation is less than 4 cents per kWh on average, placing incremental hydro among the most inexpensive sources of renewable energy.

The following projects have been selected for negotiation of awards for the amount listed:

Hydropower Upgrades for Projects Larger than 50 Megawatts (MW)

Hydropower Upgrades for Projects Less Than or Equal to 50 MW

Following negotiation of final funding amounts, projects are expected to begin in 2010.

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Content Last Updated: 09/21/2011