“One of the best opportunities we have to increase our supply of clean energy is by bringing our hydro power 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.”

The US Department of Energy (DOE) sought cost-shared projects that upgrade existing hydro power 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 50MW of installed capacity and those of 50MW and under..

The following projects have been selected for negotiation of funding awards:

Projects larger than 50MW

• Alabama Power Company – up to $6M for a project in Mitchell, Alabama that will increase efficiency and upgrade four units at three hydroelectric plants on the Coosa River by replacing 1940s to 1960s vintage turbines with new high-efficiency stainless steel turbines and runners that maximize each unit’s ability to utilize the limited available water. Generation will increase by 36,087MWh annually (7.3% increase).

• Alcoa, Inc. – up to $13M for a project in Robbinsville, NC, to replace four 90-year-old Francis Turbines with four new high-efficiency stainless steel turbines, generators, and transformers, providing an additional 22MW of generating capacity at Alcoa’s Tapoco Cheoah plant. Annual generation would increase by 95,000MWh (23% increase), and the project would reduce the likelihood of an oil spill into the river with the replacement of water cooled transformers and removal of lead and asbestos from all four generating units.

• City of Tacoma, Department of Public Utilities – up to $4.67M for a project in Potlatch, WA to add two 1.8MW Francis Turbines to the existing 81MW Cushman No. 2 Dam, adding 23,500MWh of annual generation (14% increase) and 3.6MW of capacity. In addition, the project will incorporate an upstream fish collection pool to enable reintroduction of native fish above the dam for the first time since the 1920s.

Projects less than or equal to 50MW

• The City of Boulder, CO – up to $1.18M for a project in Boulder, CO, to upgrade the 100-year-old Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Project by replacing two older turbines with a single, high-efficiency unit. The new turbine would operate at a wider range of flows and higher efficiency ranges, resulting in an increase in annual generation of 11,000MWh (30% increase). Upgrades to wiring and removal of asbestos would reduce environmental hazards and improve safety.

• Energy Northwest – up to $800,000 for a project in Packwood, WA, to design, manufacture, and install a new state-of-the-art Pelton Wheel Turbine at the Packwood Lake Hydroelectric facility. The new turbine will have greater efficiency at low power operations, increasing annual generation by 5868MWh (6% increase), and will benefit the local fish population and create more sustainable habitat conditions downstream.

• Incorporated County of Los Alamos, NM – up to $4.56M for a project in Los Alamos, NM, to add a low flow turbine/generator to the 13.8MW hydroelectric plant in Abiquiu, New Mexico, increasing the total plant capacity by 3MW and allowing the dam to operate when releases are below or above the capacity of the two existing turbines. The upgrade will increase annual generation by 6462MWh (22% increase). The project’s environmental benefits include higher dissolved oxygen content in downstream water and increased minimum flows.

• North Little Rock Electric Department – up to $450,000 for a project in Little Rock, AR, to install an automated intake maintenance device at its 39MW hydroelectric facility on the Arkansas River to clear debris currently obstructing the intake and allow the facility to operate consistently at near peak efficiency and significantly reduce the high cost of dredging. Air pollution would be reduced in a non-attainment air basin as the debris has been previously burned for removal.

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