The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the largest operator of hydroelectric power plants in the United States and one of the largest in the world. The 75 USACE plants have a total installed capacity of nearly 22,000 megawatts and produce over 72 billion kilowatt-hours a year. This is approximately 25% of the nation’s total hydropower output.
Hydropower offers numerous advantages over alternative fuels. It is:
- Renewable. The earth provides a continual supply of water from rainfall and snowmelt.
- Efficient. Hydropower plants convert about 90 percent of the energy in falling water into electricity.
- Clean. Hydropower plants do not emit waste heat and gases.
- Reliable. Hydropower machinery is relatively simple, which makes it reliable and durable.
- Flexible. Units can start quickly and adjust rapidly to changes in electricity demand.
USACE hydropower plants play a key role in the economy by offering an affordable power source, which helps keep overall energy prices down. USACE hydropower plants are also better for the environment than other sources of electrical power because they don't use fossil fuels. Without hydropower, the U.S. would have to burn much more coal, oil, and natural gas every year. The increasing availability of hydropower also helps reduce America's dependence on other nations for fuel.
USACE collaborates on its hydropower efforts with the Department of Energy and a variety of other federal, regional and state agencies and private companies. USACE is in the process of upgrading many of its facilities to increase efficiency and reliability. Due to its significant advantages over other energy sources, hydropower will continue to play an important role in meeting the nation's energy needs in the years to come.
For more information read our Hydropower brochure (pdf, 1.64 MB) or view the Hydropower fast facts.