- An Iowa lawmaker wants to access untapped potential at dams, studying the addition of more hydroelectric power to go along with the state's substantial wind resources, Midwest Energy News reports.
- Rep. Dan Kelley (D) has indicated interest in introducing a bill in 2015 which would fund a study on Iowa's hydroelectric potential, which he says could eventually produce as much energy as the state's wind resources.
- There are about 80,000 non-powered dams in the United States which provide some type of service, according to a 2012 Department of Energy study. Iowa ranks tenth among states with untapped hydro resources and could add 427 MW.
Iowa already gets more than a quarter of its power from wind, but Kelley believes the state could ultimately be getting almost as much from its hydroelectric resources.
DOE says non-powered dams (NPD) have the potential to produce 12,000 MW of power, expanding the United States' conventional hydro resources by 15%. Because the dams are already in place DOE says the expansion could be done at less cost and environmental impact.
A majority of the potential is concentrated in just 100 dams which could contribute approximately 8 GW of power, and the top 10 facilities could add up to 3 GW.
"Importantly, many of the monetary costs and environmental impacts of dam construction have already been incurred at NPDs, so adding power to the existing dam structure can often be achieved at lower cost, with less risk, and in a shorter timeframe than development requiring new dam construction," DOE said. "The abundance, cost, and environmental favorability of NPDs, combined with the reliability and predictability of hydropower, make these dams a highly attractive source for expanding the nation’s renewable energy supply"