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FROM: Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA)
14 Oak Street, Suite 302, Hood River, Oregon 97031   •   541.716.6085
CONTACT: Julie O’Shea, Executive Director,


Program features preliminary analysis of hydro potential in existing infrastructure

HOOD RIVER, OR – Energy Trust of Oregon, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), and Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA) are working together to identify potential hydropower projects that can be located within existing water system infrastructure. Focusing on Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Western Montana, the objective of their search is to identify five to ten irrigation districts, municipal water suppliers, or other water users within the Energy Trust and BEF territories that have the potential to generate hydropower.

Project manager Les Perkins explains, “Our goal is to find all of the water utilities that are interested in generating hydropower with water they are already using and begin to build a list of projects that can move on to the next step.” Water system managers who believe their system may have the potential for hydropower are encouraged to contact Les Perkins at FCA by calling 541.490.4062 or via email at


In October of last year, Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Energy Trust of Oregon published a case study, authored by FCA that examined the cumulative effects of small-scale hydropower generation by two irrigation districts in the Hood River watershed over the past 30 years.

Energy Trust program manager Jed Jorgensen explains the impetus for the study:

“Hydropower projects utilizing irrigation district infrastructure have been a focus for Energy Trust because the projects can generate renewable energy while often creating other environmental benefits, such as putting water back in-stream for fish. Through this study, we were able to share the full range of benefits that can be experienced both by irrigation districts and the environment from irrigation hydro projects.”

The study found a measured positive impact on fish from these projects in the Hood River watershed, “…realized through the generation of nearly $90 million in revenue that funded infrastructure improvements leading to increased summer stream flows, installation of fish screens, removal of passage barriers, and increased collaboration within the watershed community.”

The study stated that, in Oregon, there are currently only twenty hydropower systems installed within irrigation water delivery systems. Les Perkins says that the potential of irrigation systems as a source of new hydropower is of particular interest, due to the opportunity to use an existing resource for an additional benefit.

The study, “Cumulative Watershed Impacts of Small-Scale Hydroelectric Projects in Irrigation Delivery Systems: A Case Study,” is available for free, immediate download via FCA’s website at


Ideal candidates for the program are irrigation districts or other water users whose potential hydropower project would fit the following basic criteria:

  1. The potential hydro project must use an existing diversion (whether for irrigation, hydro, municipal or other use).
  2. The potential hydro project must be located within the water conveyance system.
  3. The potential hydro project must use only the quantity of water currently diverted (no net increase in diversion quantity). In systems where winter water is available, year round diversion may be considered.
  4. The water delivery system must meet or have the capability of meeting current fish screening and passage requirements. (It is possible for these issues to be addressed as part of the potential hydro project).
  5. The potential hydro project must be able to deliver energy to Portland General Electric or Pacific Power in Oregon, or to an electric co-op in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, or Western Montana.The potential hydro project must be located within either ETO Energy Trust or BEF territory.
  6. The owner of the resource must be willing to provide some basic information used for a preliminary evaluation.

Irrigation Districts and other water users meeting these criteria are encouraged to inquire with Les Perkins of FCA via email at or by phone at (541) 490-4062.