Los Alamos County Completes Abiquiu Hydropower Project, Bringing New Clean Energy Resources to New Mexico

April 21, 2011

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu issued the following statement on the completion and startup today of the Abiquiu Hydropower Project in New Mexico – the first hydropower project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to be completed nationwide.

"Today marks a major milestone in securing America’s clean energy future as we celebrate the completion of the Department of Energy’s first major Recovery Act-funded water power project. By increasing renewable energy output at existing hydropower facilities, we can create clean energy jobs, bolster our nation’s economic competitiveness, and contribute to America’s diverse energy portfolio," said Secretary Chu. "The Abiquiu Low-Flow Turbine Hydropower Project highlights the clean energy potential and local economic benefits that come with the environmentally responsible use of our rivers."

The project received a $4.5 million Recovery Act grant from the Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Wind and Water Power Program, which was leveraged with $4.5 million from the private sector to fully fund the project. The low-flow turbine will increase renewable energy generation capacity by 22 %at the Abiquiu facility – from 13.8 megawatts to 16.8 megawatts. The new turbine will produce enough energy to power 1,100 homes annually and will supply clean energy to Los Alamos County, including DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory. Hydropower projects at both new and existing facilities will play an important role in meeting President Obama’s bold but ambitious goal of generating 80 % of America’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

At today’s commissioning ceremony, representatives from DOE joined New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and Los Alamos County officials to celebrate the unveiling of the 3 megawatt turbine-generator, which was installed by the Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities at the Abiquiu Hydroelectric Facility on the Rio Chama River in New Mexico.

DOE’s Wind and Water Power Program works to improve the performance, lower the costs, and accelerate the deployment of innovative wind and water power technologies. Greater use of the nation's abundant wind and water resources for electric power generation will help stabilize energy costs, enhance energy security, and improve our environment.