Document Type


Publication Date

January 1979


N searching for alternative sources of energy to supply growing demands, it is essential that renewable sources by thoroughly considered. An essential early step in further hydroelectric power development is to understand in detail the amount and location of the resource. This survey of hydroelectric power potential covers the entire State of Utah, the Bear River Basin in Idaho and Wyoming, and the small part of the Snake River drainage lying in the Utah Power and Light Company service area in Idaho. Streams were covered initially if their flow was estimated to exceed 36 cfs 50 percent of the time. Later the study was extended to include all streams with more than 10 cfs 50 percent of the time. The included streams were divided into segments (reaches) having about the same flow. For every stream gage in the study area, the data collected over the period of record were used to determine the percent ages of the time various flow rates are exceeded. The percent ages were plotted on duration curves for all gages and extended to each river reach of interest. Mean monthly flows were calculated for each gage and also extended to each reach. The location, length, total head available, existing power plants and other pertinent data were determined for each reach. The total theoretical power and annual available energy (assuming 100 percent efficiency) were estimated for each reach and all the data were printed on individual summary sheets. This information plus derived average cost curves provide a basis for selection of promising sites for more detailed study. The power and energy were also summarized in tables for rivers, major basins, for the State of Utah and for the study area. Lists of existing power plants and abandoned or retired plants were prepared. The total theoretical power available 50 percent of the time in the State of Utah and Bear River including all streams with more than 10 cfs over half the time ins 1080 MW. Since only part of this potential can be developed and actual efficiencies are lower than 100 percent, the real power potential is substantially less. For comparison, the Huntington steam plant of Utah Power and Light Company has a capacity of 800 MW. Existing installed hydroelectric capacity is 177 MW for Utah and Bear River (not including Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon). This capacity is about the same as the Carbon steam plant of Utah Power and Light Company (171 MW). Hydroelectric power plants with a combined installed capacity of 35 MW have been abandoned or retired in the same area. While it is clear that hydroelectric power cannot supply the major needs of the state even if all possible plants are built, the utilization of the best sites which are economically feasible and environmentally acceptable could contribute significantly to meeting Utah’s energy needs.