Detailed Information on the
Corps of Engineers: Hydropower Assessment

Program Code 10000002
Program Title Corps of Engineers: Hydropower
Department Name Corps of Engineers-Civil Works
Agency/Bureau Name Corps of Engineers-Civil Works
Program Type(s) Capital Assets and Service Acquisition Program
Assessment Year 2004
Assessment Rating Adequate
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 80%
Strategic Planning 100%
Program Management 100%
Program Results/Accountability 33%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $285
FY2008 $291
FY2009 $319

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

The 2006 Budget proposes again that the Congress authorize the Southeastern, Southwestern, and Western Area Power Administrations to finance directly the full cost of operating and maintaining the Corps facilities that generate power for their customers.

Not enacted All language relative to direct funding the Hydropower Business Line was removed from all authorizing and/or appropriations legislation

This year the Corps will develop a measure for tracking the cost efficiency of Corps hydropower facilities compared to other Federal and non-Federal hydropower production facilities.

Action taken, but not completed O&M cost data have been collected for all Corps hydropower facilities through FY2006. Cost data iscurrently being entered for FY2007 operating year.

This year the Hydropower Business Line program will launch the Hydropower Modernization Initiative (HMI). This initiative will establish a programmatic approach for hydropower major rehabilitation projects and us a ranking model to prioritize hydropower major rehabilitation projects.

Action taken, but not completed

A Corporate Reliability Compliance Plan will be developed to ensure that all 75 Coprs of Engineers powerplants meet or exceed the approved FERC electric reliability standards that are applicable to Generator Owners and Generator Operators. FERC was given the authority to mandate electric reliability compliance in the 2005 Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Action taken, but not completed A draft Corporate Reliability Compliance Plan is complete and in review. The Corps' legal position is that the FERC does not have jurisdiction over the Corps of Engineers because the authorizing legislation did not explicitily include a waiver of soverign immunity for Federal agencies. The Corps will voluntarily comply with approved reliability standards within the constraints of its resources and project operating requirements.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

This year the Corps will begin using HydroAMP to set national investment priorities and, within the framework of the Five-Year Civil Works Plan, and develop a strategy for funding those priorities in the budget.

Completed Condition Assessment Guide Books are complete for nine major components of the generating unit power train. Condition assessment data for all major components are complete and will be used to inform the FY2010 budget process.

This year risk and reliability criteria will be incorporated into the budget prioritization process. A risk matrix will be developed utilizing condition assessment indices from hydroAMP to evaluate consequence of risk. This tool will assist in prioritizing O&M and major maintenance resources.

Completed Relative Risk Indices are being used to prioritize non-routine major maintenance projects in the FY2010 budget development process.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Annual Output

Measure: Annual forced outage rate (in percent) of hydropower units.

Explanation:Attain a forced outage rate that is lower that the most recent industry average for similar units. Recent annual industry averages ranges from 2.0 to 2.5 percent. The goal is to out-perform the industry average.

Year Target Actual
2002 2% 3.41%
2003 2% 3.45%
2004 2% 4.00%
2005 2% 4.66%
2006 2% 3.79%
2007 2% 4.67%
2008 4.55%
2009 2%
2010 2%
Long-term Output

Measure: Percent of generating capacity that has a major generator/turbine related component rated in poor condition.

Explanation:The major components includes the generator, turbine runner, governor, transformer, circuit breaker, exciter, compressed air system, emergency closure gates and valves, surge arresters, and batteries. The long-term goal is to reduce generating capacity rated as "Poor" by 10 percent over the next 10 years. Equipment condition assessments will be performed by the HydroAMP Condition Asserssment tool.

Year Target Actual
2003 95% 89.2%
2004 95% 88.3%
2005 95% 88.0%
2006 95% 84.6%
2007 95% 84.98% (Jun)
2008 95%
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Percent of time hydroelectric generating units are available to the Power Marketing Administration's interconnected system during daily peak demand periods.

Explanation:Peak availability periods are regionally defined as a period of high demand for electrical power during low flow or water supply. Peak availability will be computed using a 5-year rolling average. The long term goal is to achieve and sustain a peak availability level of 95 percent within the next 10 years.

Year Target Actual
2007 100% Data Available 9/07
2006 100% No Data Available
2005 100% No Data Available
Long-term Output

Measure: Perform a comprehensive periodic review or annual power review at each required hydropower plant.

Explanation:Each year a number of hydropower facilities undergo an annual power review. This target is measured in percent the total number of reviews completed for facilities that requires a review.

Annual Output

Measure: Operation and Maintenance (O&M) costs for power, expressed as $/MWh.

Explanation:The Corps is a member of the EUCG (not an acronym) Benchmarking Consortium, which consist of hydropower producers from across the industry. Therefore, EUCG benchmarking data will be utilized to produce annual costs benchmarking reports. O&M costs will not increase annually beyond the 5-year rolling average "plus" or "minus" 5 percent.

Annual Output

Measure: Percentage of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Electric Reliability Council (NERC) approved electric reliability standards that apply to generator owners and operators in the bulk power system met or exceeded.

Explanation:FERC has established mandatory rules for producers of electric power. The Corps' hydropower program takes reliability seriously and considers it to be essential to its success in meeting the needs of its customers. Compliance with all applicable standards will only be limited by the availability of resources. Due to no waiver of soverign immunity, the FERC has no enforcemt jusidiction over the Corps' hydropower program.

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The purpose of the Corps of Engineers Hydropower program is to produce hydroeolectric power at 75 multi-purpose Federal reservoirs that house 345 power generating units. Each of projects was constructed and operates under individual project authorizations and for multiple purposes (such as flood damage reduction, protection of threatened or endangered fish and wildlife and commercial navigation), including hydropower production.

Evidence: The program authorization is found in the 1938 Flood Control Act as well as in the 75 individual project authorizations. See also the Flood Control Act of 1944. Under the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1958 the Corps is authorized to protect threatened or endangered fish/wildlife at operating projects.

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest or need?

Explanation: The program was originally authorized to make electricity available and spur economic development in less developed parts of the country, but the Corps Hydropower Program continues to help meet regional need for stable, reliable, and low-cost electrical power across the Nation. The program generates 24 percent of the Nation's hydropower supply --- three percent of total electric power --- most of which is produced in the Pacific Northwest. Because hydropower facilities have the unique ability to start quickly and adjust rapidly, Corps powerplants also provide ancillary benefits in contributing to the stability and reliability of the electrical grid and providing a critical emergency power reserve.

Evidence: In 2003, the program produced approximately enough energy to serve 10 million households at one-tenth the cost of fossil-fuel power production. The program also helps stabilize and maintain the reliability of the electric power distribution grid through voltage support, reactive power, ancillary services and at some plants, the ability to blackstart the electrical grid after a blackout.

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: The program produces hydropower that is sold by Federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) at cost to supplement the production of hydropower by the Bureau of Reclamation in the West and by other, non-Federal entities elsewhere. Private and other non-Federal entities also produce hydropower but not at Corps-owned facilities and not at-cost.

Evidence: The Reclamation Project Act of 1939 and the Flood Control Act of 1944 dictate the terms under which the Corps produces and makes available to the PMAs at-cost hydropower.

YES 20%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: The program would benefit from expansion of direct financing arrangements between the Corps and the Power Marketing Administrations. The shift to direct and/or customer funding in certain Corps regions has enabled regional/system-wide improvements and bulk purchasing of power generation components rather than individual projects competing for limited funds through the appropriations process, resulting in improved efficiency. Another continuing challenge for the Corps is the need to balance the projects' hydropower production with the other authorized reservoir purposes and uses, to reflect changing conditions and national values. Finally, consideration should be given to improving the way in which major rehabilitation work is financed.

Evidence: The hydropower system requires significant investments of preventative maintenance and rehabilitation on a recurring basis as determined through ongoing monitoring of facility conditions, yet, as GAO has reported, the delays and uncertainty associated with the appropriations-based financing have resulted in a lack of investment in these facilities, and consequently, a decline in the program's performance. Consistent with its strategic goals, the Corps should work toward improving its management of the hydropower program to better reflect the increased National interest in protecting fish and wildlife at Corps reservoirs.

NO 0%

Is the program effectively targeted, so that resources will reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: The program effectively meets its statutory requirement to provide power first to designated 'preference customers' and then to non-preference customers, through the regionally based PMAs. Both the Corps and the PMAs consult with these customers on a regular basis to determine needs, program issues, and future potential rate impacts.

Evidence: Federal statutes require the program to produce and make available at-cost power to defined groups of "preference customers" through the Power Marketing Administrations.

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 80%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: The program has three long-term performance measures that reflect the program purpose: Forced-Outage Rate; High Load (Peak Power) Availability Rate; Production Efficiency (System-Wide Capacity as a Percentage of System-Wide Nameplate Capacity); and Condition Efficiency Assessment (CEA) Rating. Together, these measures are used to set long-term production and efficiency goals on a regional basis. However, the program needs additional measures --- first, a measure that tracks how well Corps facilities compare with other similar Federal and non-Federal production facilities in terms of cost efficiency. Second, as the largest user of Corps reservoirs, the hydropower program should (in cooperation with other programs using the reservoirs) begin developing a measure that assesses how well the program balances the hydropower related use of the reservoir against other authorized uses of the reservoirs.

Evidence: The Condition Efficiency Assessment (CEA) rating is a valuable measure also used by the Bureau of Reclamation Hydropower Program that will enable plant managers to track the condition of individual generating units and better manage and plan for future repairs. Baseline data for the CEA will be available in 2005. In the meantime, the Corps is using Production Efficiency, a measure based on average unit age and the number of de-rated units per hydropower facility.

YES 11%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: Ambitious targets and timeframes have been set for Forced Outage Rate, Peak Season Availability and Production Efficiency. The achievement of these targets, however, could depend on the availability of appropriated funds for investment in facility repairs and major rehabilitations. Where direct financing arrangements exist between the Corps and the PMAs for the operation and maintenance costs at hydropower plants (or among the Corps, PMAs and customers for direct customer funding of major rehabilitations), the achievement of long-term goals is more realistic.

Evidence: The 2006 Budget Request incorporates long-term performance targets for the measures adopted in the Civil Works Strategic Plan.

YES 11%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: The program's annual performance measures are designed as steppingstones to demonstrate the program's annual progress toward achieving its long-term goals.

Evidence: The Civil Works Strategic Plan and the Corps 2006 Budget Request state the program's annual performance measures and the program uses these measure to set performance targets and track performance trends.

YES 11%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: The program has baseline data and targets are being set for use in the 2006 budget request. for Forced Outages, Peak Power Availability, and Production Efficiency.

Evidence: The Corps does not have baseline data on Cost Efficiency, as this measure is still under development.

YES 11%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: The Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) and Preference Customers serve as "watchdogs" on the availability and cost of power. The Corps works closely and regularly (monthly) with them through regional alliances and working groups to review planned investments, performance goals, and system conditions. However, the PMAs ' project funding and management decisions often are not weighed against other project purposes and the impacts of those decisions on the recreation, flood control or navigation-related purposes of the project.

Evidence: The Corps-PMA shared performance goals focus on "forced outages" and "system availabililty" and are regional in nature. However, the Northwest Joint Operating Committee has developed both system performance and environmental goals.

YES 11%

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: Haddon-Jackson and Associates, an independent consulting firm generally regarded as the leader in benchmarking hydroelectric powerplants in the U.S. and Canada, was contracted by two of the PMAs (BPA and SEPA) to evaluate operations at Corps facilities in the Pacific Northwest, South Atlantic and Lakes & Rivers Divisions against other Federal and private hydropower producers. These three regions account for 75 percent of the total program's power production. The remaining regions are not currently participating in independent benchmarking efforts. The operations plan for each reservoir is developed in consideration of all authorized purposes and of other applicable Fedearl laws; however, there has not been a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of hydropower operations at Corps reservoirs on competing uses of those reservoirs.

Evidence: The regions that are not currently participating in the Haddon Jackson benchmarking effort are planning to join the Haddon Jackson or EUCG benchmarking groups in the near future.

YES 11%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: In the past, budget requests have not explicitly associated funding levels with the achievement of annual and long-term goals, but the development of the FY06 budget has focused on linking budget requests to performance targets.

Evidence: The Corps development of the 2006 links various funding levels to performance increments. Past budget submissions have only loosely connected funding alternatives with annual and long-term goals.

YES 11%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: The Corps hired a national hydropower team coordinator in 2002, and has taken other steps to improve its strategic planning efforts, including the following: contracting out for independent benchmarking studies; collaborating with other Hydropower producers to develop a condition evaluation assessment rating tool and a model for risk-based strategic investment decisions; validating a national database for forced outages and other performance indicators (OMBIL); and initiating the development of a 5-10 year asset management plan. Once the Hydropower Asset Management Plan is implemented, (HydroAMP) the Corps will be able to set priorities, regionally and nationally (as needed), among competing maintenance needs.

Evidence: The program has engaged in internal and collaborative efforts with other hydropower producers to develop better facility assessment and management methodologies that will enable more precise, long-term strategic planning.

YES 11%

Has the agency/program conducted a recent, meaningful, credible analysis of alternatives that includes trade-offs between cost, schedule, risk, and performance goals and used the results to guide the resulting activity?

Explanation: The multi-year collaborative effort to develop Hydropower Asset Management Plan (HydroAMP), a standard for equipment condition assessment modeling of risk-based strategic investment decisions, is estimated to be completed by the end of 2004. Once completed, the HydroAMP model will enable the Corps to conduct a credible analysis of investment alternatives and make decisions accordingly. In addition, twice a year the Corps employs a process for strategic planning, evaluation and adjustment of program investments in hydropower facilities.


YES 11%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 100%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: The program uses a national database to extract and compile individual plant performance information by region and yield performance reports comparing regional and national program data against annual targets.The Corps reviews performanceand financial information regularly with the PMAs and preference customers in each region. However, the Corps and the PMAs could improve their monitoring and response to environmental conditions affected by hydropower-related decisions.

Evidence: OMBIL reports and other sources of performance information for individual projects and regions are reviewed regularly by the Corps with its partners and customers and used to make management and investment decisions.

YES 12%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: Regional and local Federal managers are held accountable for their program management performance which is either directly or indirectly tied to maintaining project schedules and costs as well as satisfactory issue resolution and problem solving. Construction contractors are also held accountable for contracted work at the plants through contract performance clauses that identify financial penalties for missed schedules and rate contractors' performance.

Evidence: The Corps personnel performance management system --- Total Army Performance Evaluation System --- links program and project managers' performance with achieving program goals. Regarding contractors, performance clauses are included in all construction contracts which explicitly state agreed upon cost and work schedules.

YES 12%

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: The obligation and expenditure of Federal and partner funds are tracked in the Corps automated, real-time financial management database (Corps of Engineers Financial Management System, or CEFMS) and tracking reports are reviewed monthly by the Program Review Board to ensure expenditures are aligned with purposes expressed in appropriations and outlined in Memoranda of Agreement with partners.

Evidence: Cost schedules are tracked for every project, and deviations from the approved cost schedules require corrective action.

YES 12%

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: The Corps Hydroelectric Design Center and Hydropower Analysis Center (HDC and HAC) pursue and leverage the latest technological efficiencies in project design, economics and operation. The Corps is currently implementing a DoD approved, nation-wide asset management system called FEM (Facilities and Equipment Maintenance), which allows for automated tracking of work orders related to individual units and their maintenance and repair histories for more efficient asset management and strategic planning purposes. The program also has an automated system for tracking and reporting project performance, including efficiency indicators such as costs per kilowatt-hour of power produced, to better align program efficiencies. Finally, each power plant maintains efficiency curves for each generating unit to maximize operational efficiency of the generating units and usage of the water supply.


YES 12%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: The Hydropower program has developed a strong working relationship with DOE, Bureau of Reclamation, Hydro Quebec, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, PMAs, and Preference Customers to share best practices and discuss national policy issues.

Evidence: The Corps has developed regional collaborative forums (management alliances and working groups) to review operational performance, cost and management issues with PMAs and Preference Customers.

YES 12%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: The program tracks the rates at which funds are scheduled, obligated, and expended, but it is not currently using an earned value management system. No material weaknesses were found for the program during the most recent audit, but the overall Civil Works program has not received a clean audit opinion on recent fiscal year financial records. Although the program collects and tracks financial and performance information fairly regularly, the information needs to be more integrated in its collection and review so that it is more useful for program management purposes.

Evidence: The Corps tracks financial information through the Corps of Engineers Financial Management System, which is distributed and linked throughout all the Corps offices and is available at each individual powerplant. The system enforces the 30-day prompt payment act for contracted services and is available almost real-time to all users. This sytem still needs to be integrated more fully with the program's performance information tracking system to support performance-based program management.

YES 12%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: There currently are no reported management deficiencies for the Hydropower program. However, the national program management team should try to improve the integrated collection and tracking of performance and financial data at the regional and national levels to ensure progress is being made toward annual performance and cost efficiency targets.

Evidence: The Corps uses an Internal Control Program to audit management deficiencies at the program level. The PMAs also perform yearly audits of all program costs by region for calculation of rates.

YES 12%

Is the program managed by maintaining clearly defined deliverables, capability/performance characteristics, and appropriate, credible cost and schedule goals?

Explanation: The program uses Performance Based Service Contracting methods to track project performance through the life of a contract. Contract requirements are linked to performance outcomes to the maximum extent possible.


YES 12%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 100%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: Only two out of five regions (Lakes and Rivers Division and Mississippi River Division) are making adequate progress toward long term targets for Forced Outages and Unit Availability goals.

Evidence: Progress continues to be made on decreasing forced outages in the Northwest through direct funding arrangements. In the Southeast and Southwest, forced outage rates are increasing; however, preference customer funding agreements are being put into place to improve timely financing of asset improvements to avoid potential breakdowns.


Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: Three of the five regions (Northwestern Division, South Atlantic Division and Southwestern Division) are not meeting annual performance goals.



Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: Due to decreased budgets, some cost efficiencies have been generated by program managers and operators out of necessity - however, program goals are mostly unmet. Improved efficiencies and cost effectiveness have resulted from regional preference customer funding agreements that enhance opportunities for system-wide improvements and regional purchases.



Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: Corps power plants have a higher forced outage rate than Bureau of Reclamation power plants and other non-Federal power producers. There has not been an overall comparison of the Corps program with other Federal and non-Federal programs regarding other performance indicators, including cost efficiency.

Evidence: Studies by GAO and an independent benchmarking entity found that the Corps hydropower plants were less reliable than their non-Federal counterparts, largely because of the lack of and uncertainty of funding for facility maintenance and repairs.


Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: Benchmark studies involving three regions show that the program does not measure up to industry standards for reliability and efficiency.



Were program goals achieved within budgeted costs and established schedules?

Explanation: Within the constraints of appropriations-based program funding, forced outage rates continue to increase and power plants are unable to run efficiently. Compromises have been and continue to be made to optimize project life and generation capacity and minimize risk of future forced breakdowns.


Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 33%

Last updated: 09062008.2004SPR