U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Water Power Program
President Bush Approves Extension for Idaho Hydropower Project
December 20, 2006
Only 3 percent of the 80,000 dams in the United States produce power,
and it would be feasible to add an estimated 16,700 megawatts of new
hydropower to some of those existing dams. That sounds nice in theory,
but a group of five irrigation districts in Idaho have found that the
idea can be difficult in practice. The Boise-area irrigation districts
obtained a federal license in 1989 to add two 7.5-megawatt turbines to
two of the outlets from Arrowrock Dam, a Bureau of Reclamation dam on
the Boise River. Shortly after the license was obtained, the Bull
Trout was listed as an endangered species, causing a re-evaluation of
the project. Although construction of the project should have started
within two years after the license was issued, the Bull Trout issue
and other complications have required the U.S. Congress to repeatedly
step in and extend the deadline on the project.
In 2005, the irrigation districts committed to funding the project and
the Clatskanie People's Utility District (PUD) in Oregon agreed to buy
the power generated at the dam, but the license expired in 2006 before
construction was started. House Resolution 4377, introduced in late
2005, will extend the construction deadline by another three years.
The bill passed Congress in late September and was signed by President
Bush on December 13th. See the
White House press release,
the text of the bill
(PDF 30 KB),
and the Clatskanie PUD fact sheet on the project
(PDF 153 KB).
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