Fort Dodge Mill Dam Project
Hydroelectric power in Iowa as an Untapped Renewable Resource
Hydroelectric power is a tremendous untapped renewable resource in Iowa that is
literally going down the river each year it is not developed.
The fact is Iowa has the potential for 455.5 megawatts (MW) of nameplate hydropower.
310 MW is untapped hydropower at developed sites. When efficiencies are assessed,
220MW is located at these existing dams according to the US Hydropower Resource
Assessment of the US Department of Energy December 1995.
The Iowa DNR has identified 61 sites. 10 are active producing 134 MW of power.
The 134 megawatts of capacity currently available from Iowa’s hydropower plants is
enough power to:
* meet the needs of approximately 76,000 homes
* avoid 807,000 tons of CO2 emissions
* avoid 22,500 tons of SO2
* avoid 1,990 tons of NOx
* avoid 2,620 tons of particulates
* eliminate the need for 322,200 tons of coal, or 3,222 coal rail cars
The Code of Federal Regulations defines a small hydro facility as not exceeding eighty
The facility must meet other environmental and licensing requirements.
Hydro is now cost effective since interest rates have declined. The high cost of capital
for hydro projects as compared to operating cost has a major influence on project
One large reservoir in Iowa has been determined to be able to provide 36 MW of
capacity producing over 150,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually.
Some sites may have the ability to be further developed to enable “pumped storage.
This technology pumps water to a holding area during off-peak periods for use during
peak and low-flow times thus increasing the efficiency of the overall project at
commercially viable rates.
Hydropower projects will bring construction jobs into Iowa, and will have a lasting
positive economic impact by creating operations, maintenance and administrative jobs.
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