al issues at play that limit the Crops’ ability to access revenue generated at most of its power facilities, with those of the Bonneville Power Administration being a notable exception. The Corps hydropower program also is affected by pressures to reallocate reservoir storage to non-power uses.
This section examines the status of the Corps hydropower program, challenges it faces, and unique opportunities that it has relative to other water resources infrastructure because of inherent revenue generation in the program. A primary source of information and perspective for this section was the comprehensive and critical evaluation of the Corps hydropower program by Sale (2010).
Through its 75 hydropower plants and installed generation capacity of 20,500 megawatts (MW), the Corps owns and operates approximately one-fourth of the nation’s hydropower capacity. Most of its generating capacity is in the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS), with much of the remaining capacity in its Missouri River dams. The Corps’ Columbia (and Snake River) and Missouri River hydropower generation capacity combined represents about 75 percent of the Corps’ national generating capacity (USACE, 2012a). Average annual energy generation from Corps projects is approximately 70 billion kWh (worth approximately $5 billion at current wholesale prices for power), and annual revenue to the U.S. Treasury from Corps hydropower sales is in the range $2 billion to $3 billion per year (Sale, 2010). This represents over half the size of the entire Corps’ annual appropriation.
As of 2010, the median age of all Corps hydropower projects was 47 years, and 90 percent of the projects were 34 years old or older (Sale, 2010). Given the ages of the facilities, OMR needs and failure rates are increasing, along with associated decreases in performance. As an example, total hours of forced outages across all Corps hydropower projects have been increasing steadily since at least 1999 (Figure 3-7).
In an era of heightened interest in energy policies and sources, electricity generation from Corps hydropower projects has been decreasing steadily as a result of insufficient equipment maintenance and rehabilitation. Total electric power generation from Corps hydropower projects decreased from 73.6 TWh