Resource Profile: Hydro Energy in Utah
Hydropower accounts for more than 20 percent of all the electricity generation in these 13 western states. In states like Washington, Oregon and Idaho, hydropower accounted for more than half of each state’s electricity generation in 2009. Fed by powerful waterways like the Colorado and Columbia rivers, electricity from hydropower helps several western states enjoy some of the lowest electricity prices in the country. In Utah hydropower is somewhat less significant as a percentage of net electricity generation in the state, accounting for just under 2%, but however small, the resource is both valuable and underdeveloped.
In terms of existing value, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operates two hydro plants in the State, including the small facility at Deer Creek Reservoir, and the much larger 150 MW plant at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Additionally, PacifiCorp operates 10 hydroelectric plants in the State of Utah, 9 of which range in size from 0.16-10.3 MWs in nameplate capacity, and one of which – the Cutler Plant in Box Elder County – is an appreciably larger 30 MWs. Most of the plants were constructed between the very early 1900s and 1930. However, the oldest are Granite (Big Cottonwood Creek) and Pioneer (Ogden River), which went into operation in 1896 and 1897, respectively. Local municipal utilities and irrigation companies operate at least a few dozen additional smaller facilities throughout the State, the majority of which are 0.5-3 MWs in size.