The Opekiska Lock and Dam, a non-powered dam on the Monongahela River. Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Across the country, there are thousands of dams and waterways that steer water where it needs to go—but they could do more. And the Energy Department is working on that.

Under an incentive program for hydropower development, the Department opened the application period today for the program’s latest round of funding. Applications are now being accepted from owners and operators that produced hydroelectric power in 2015 from new equipment added to an existing dam or conduit constructed before 2005. Applications for this new round of funding are due by May 31, 2016.

Progress in hydropower technologies, many funded by the Energy Department, has led to new hydroelectric energy systems that take advantage of existing structures such as non-powered dams and conduits. To meet America’s growing need for electricity, the funding creates an incentive to develop these existing structures with new hydropower systems. Created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, our Section 242 Hydroelectric Production Incentive program payments are based on the amount of electricity produced in a given calendar year.

The $3.5 million in funding announced today will be awarded as incentive payments based on kilowatt hours of hydroelectric energy generated in calendar year 2015. Qualified applicants may receive up to 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour generated by their qualifying facility during the incentive period.

Hydropower is the nation's leading source of renewable energy and helps the country avoid more than 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year, while providing about 7% of our electricity. Equipping local, non-powered dams with generating capabilities has the potential to provide up to 12 gigawatts of cost-competitive, renewable energy at a lower cost than creating new powered dam structures.

For more information on these hydroelectric incentives and how to apply, visit our webpage.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. More information about this and other hydropower technologies can be found on the Water Power Program's hydropower research and development Web page.