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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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Bureau of Hydroelectric Power

The City's Bureau of Hydroelectric Power was established in 1979 to supervise the construction and then administer the ongoing operation of the Portland Hydroelectric Project (PHP) located in the Bull Run Watershed. That project was completed and commercial generation was initiated in early 1982. Under the Power Sales Agreement (PSA), 35-year contract, the City sold the power generation from the PHP to Portland General Electric (PGE). In 2017, the City entered into four new contracts to replace the original PSA contract.  The City has contracted with four firms who now operate, maintain and repair the project's facilities as well as schedule and dispatch power from the PHP for the City.

Since 1989, the Bureau of Hydroelectric Power has reported directly to the Portland Water Bureau. In the City's budget system, it is currently budgeted as the Hydroelectric Power Division of the Portland Water Bureau and its finances are kept separate from those of the rest of the Portland Water Bureau. Proceeds from the sales of the project's power generation output pay for all of the City's project costs with profits after operating costs and capital programs going to the City's General Fund.

The Portland Hydroelectric Project was constructed and currently operates under a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and permits from both the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) and the US Forest Service. As a condition of the FERC license, in 1984, the City also entered into an agreement with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to mitigate for the loss of fish habitat caused by the construction of the City's Headworks Diversion Dam in 1924. Through that agreement, the project pays the ODFW for the annual off-site rearing of 32,000 pounds of fish smolts at ODFW's Clackamas River Fish Hatchery. Those spring Chinook salmon and winter steelhead smolts are then released into the Sandy and/or Clackamas River systems at the ODFW's discretion.

Related Sites:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Want more information about hydroelectric power? Visit these fun sites.
Foundation for Water and Energy Education

How Stuff Works

U. S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (info for kids)

Hydro Research Foundation