skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: The Economic Benefits Of Multipurpose Reservoirs In The United States- Federal Hydropower Fleet

The United States is home to over 80,000 dams, of which approximately 3% are equipped with hydroelectric generating capabilities. When a dam serves as a hydropower facility, it provides a variety of energy services that range from clean, reliable power generation to load balancing that supports grid stability. In most cases, the benefits of dams and their associated reservoirs go far beyond supporting the nation s energy demand. As evidenced by the substantial presence of non-powered dams with the ability to store water in large capacities, the primary purpose of a dam may not be hydropower, but rather one of many other purposes. A dam and reservoir may support navigation, recreation, flood control, irrigation, and water supply, with each multipurpose benefit providing significant social and economic impacts on a local, regional, and national level. When hydropower is one of the services provided by a multipurpose reservoir, it is then part of an integrated system of competing uses. Operating rules, management practices, consumer demands, and environmental constraints must all be balanced to meet the multipurpose project s objectives. When federal dams are built, they are authorized by Congress to serve one or more functions. Legislation such as the Water Resources Developmentmore » Act regulates the operation of the facility in order to coordinate the authorized uses and ensure the dam s intended objectives are being met. While multipurpose reservoirs account for billions of dollars in contributions to National Economic Development (NED) every year, no attempt has been made to evaluate their benefits on a national scale. This study is an on-going work conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in an effort to estimate the economic benefits of multipurpose hydropower reservoirs in the United States. Given the important role that federal hydropower plays in the U.S., the first focus of this research will target the three main federal hydropower owners Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Together these three agencies own and operate 157 powered dams which account for almost half of the total installed hydropower capacity in the U.S. Future work will include engaging publicly-owned utilities and the private sector in order to quantify the benefits of all multipurpose hydropower reservoirs in the U.S.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Dept. of Energy (DOE), Washington DC (United States). Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
WC0100000; CEWW099
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States