US Army Corps of Engineers
Savannah District

Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake

Hydropower and the Corps of Engineers

 

 
The Corp's Wolf Creek Dam and Powerplant (KY)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the largest owner/operator of hydroelectric powerplants in the united States and one of the largest in the world. The Corps' 75 plants have a total installed capacity of 20,720 megawatts and produce nearly 100 billion kilowatt-hours a year. This is nearly a quarter of the nation's total hydropower output: enough energy to serve about ten million households, or roughly ten cities the size of Seattle, WA.

Hydropower is one of the products of developing rivers for multiple purposes. Over the years, Congress has directed the Corps to build water resource projects to serve public needs such as flood  control, water supply, and navigation. Where feasible, hydropower has also been included.

The earliest hydropower plants at Corps projects were constructed at navigation dams, as joint efforts with electric utility companies. The utilities built the powerplants, and the Corps usually built the navigation locks. Later, Congress authorized the Corps to construct it's own powerplants at dams being built for flood control, navigation, and other purposes. Most of these projects were placed in service during the decades following World War II. In the late 1970s, emphasis shifted back to allowing nonfederal hydropower development at Corps projects. More that 40 of these retrofits have now been completed, by municipalities, electric utilities, and independent power producers.

 
Ameren's Keokuk hydropower plant at Mississippi River Lock and Dam 19 (IA), which at 125 megawatts was the largest hydropower plant in the country in 1913.

The Corps is working hard to keep its powerplants operating at peak efficiency and reliability. State-of-the-art equipment is used whenever possible to replace aging turbines, generators, and control systems.

Definitions:
kilowatt-hour:
unit for measuring electric energy; a typical home uses about 800 kilowatt-hours per month.
 
megawatt (one-thousand kilowatts): unit of electric power, is used  for measuring rate of producing or consuming electric energy; a megawatt is equal to 746 horsepower.
   
Non-Federal hydropower
plant at Youghiogheny Dam    (PA)
New turbine being installed at Bonneville Dam (OR)

Hydropower and its Value to the Nation (Other Links) Credits:
The information published on this website was compiled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: The Institute for Water Resources, in partnership with the Hydroelectric Design Center and the Hydropower Analysis Center.