The Corps has played a significant role in meeting the nation's electric power generation needs by building and operating hydropower plants in connection with its large multiplepurpose dams. The Corps' involvement in hydropower generation began with the Rivers and Harbors Acts of 1890 and 1899, which required the Secretary of War and the Corps of Engineers to approve the sites and plans for all dams and to issue permits for their construction. The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1909 directed the Corps to consider various water uses, including water power, when submitting preliminary reports on potential projects.
The Corps continues to consider the potential for hydroelectric power development during the planning process for all water resources projects involving dams and reservoirs. In most instances today, it is nonfederal interests who develop hydropower facilities at Corps projects without federal assistance. The Corps, however, can plan, build and operate hydropower projects when it is impractical for nonfederal interests to do so. Today, the more than 20,000 megawatts of capacity at Corpsoperated power plants provide approximately 30 percent of the nation's hydroelectric power, or three percent of its total electric energy supply.
In New England, the Corps does not operate any hydroelectric power facilities, but there are eight hydroelectric power plants at Corps flood control dams which were constructed and are owned and operated by nonfederal interests. These plants are located in:
- North Hartland, Vermont, about 500 feet downstream of the North Hartland Lake Dam. This facility produces 4 megawatts of power. All power generated at this plant is used by the Vermont Electric Cooperative or is sold to other utilities.
- Quechee, Vermont, 2.5 miles upstream of the North Hartland Lake Dam and within the reservoir area. Built on Corps land, this plant produces 1.8 megawatts. Power is sold to the Central Vermont Public Service Corporation.
- Waterbury, Vermont, at the base of the dam at Waterbury Reservoir. This facility generates approximately 5.5 megawatts of power, which is used by the Green Mountain Power Corporation.
- Montpelier, Vermont, approximately 200 feet downstream of the dam at Wrightsville Reservoir. The plant has the capacity to produce 1.2 megawatts of power, which is used by the Washington Electric Cooperative.
- Franklin, New Hampshire, on Salmon Brook. Built on Corps land within the Franklin Falls reservoir, this facility produces 0.2 megawatts of power. Power is sold to the Public Service Company of New Hampshire.
- Bristol, New Hampshire, on the Newfound River. This plant produces 1.5 megawatts and lies on private property but within the Franklin Falls reservoir area. Power is sold to the Public Service Company of New Hampshire
- Peterborough, New Hampshire, on Verney Mills Dam at Edward MacDowell Lake. This facility began producing power in 1990. The power is sold to the Public Service Company of New Hampshire.
- Colebrook, Connecticut, where six turbine generators are lowered by crane to a position in front of the intake conduits of Colebrook River Lake. Operated by the Metropolitan District Commission of Hartford, the 7.5 megawatts of power generated annually are sold to Connecticut Light & Power Company.
- Hopkinton, New Hampshire, on the Contoocook River. The Corps' Hopkinton Lake provides river flows up to 900 cfs or inflow if less through a forebay conduit to Consolidate Hydro Operations Inc.'s Hoague-Sprague Project. This facility produces 3.6 million kilowatt hours of power. The power is sold to Public Service Company of New Hampshire.