By September 6, 2015 Read More →

80,000 dams in USA, only 3% have hydropower capability

How many other American dams could be converted to hydropower?

A power utility is considering using a Dubuque, Iowa dam to generate electricity, demonstrating the potential to create hydropower from existing infrastructure.


Lock and Dam No. 11 on the Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa.

on the Mississippi River

Energy Resources USA Inc. has applied for a preliminary permit to build a hydropower plant at Lock and Dam No. 11 on the Mississippi River, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported Saturday.

The proposed 19,800-square-foot plant would produce 119,655 megawatt-hours per year – enough to power 10,000 to 11,000 homes.

Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States, providing about 7 per cent of the nation’s power, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But of about 80,000 dams in the U.S., only 3 per cent have hydropower equipment.

Development of hydroelectric power stagnated in the 1980s. But the size of the country’s hydropower fleet has grown over the past decade. At least $6 billion has been invested in refurbishments, replacements and upgrades to U.S. hydropower plants, the EnergyDepartment’s website says

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Celeste Miller said the permit would give the company the right to explore for three years the feasibility of developing the plant. It would not authorize construction or operations. The commission oversees hydroelectric projects in the U.S. and is the entity that will consider the permit application, Miller said.

The city of Dubuque and residents have 60 days from Aug. 20 to submit comments on the application, motions to intervene or competing applications.

“We are asking council be aware of it,” Assistant City Manager Teri Goodmann said. “Staff will do research on our response and will bring that back to council for their approval.”

Comments on the application may be submitted at .


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