Hydroelectric Power

Go with the flow to create renewable energy

Hydroelectric Power

If your residential property features flowing water across a drop in elevation, you may have the capacity to generate hydropower—clean renewable electricity produced when moving water turns a turbine that spins a generator. While it's rare for residential sites to have adequate resources—and the state and federal permitting processes are complex and lengthy—hydroelectric projects have been successfully installed in a variety of locations in Oregon, including residential-scale projects on streams.

Energy Trust provides resources and cash incentives to help homeowners perform feasibility studies to assess hydropower potential and install hydroelectric generation systems. See specific cash incentive and eligibility details below.

We're here to assist with your hydroelectric project and answer any questions you may have. Call us at 503.445.7611 or contact Jed Jorgensen.

Energy Trust Incentives

We offer the following cash incentives and technical assistance for hydropower generation:

Project Development Assistance: Energy Trust may provide support for expert project development assistance including, but not limited to the following: grant writing assistance, feasibility studies, final design, permitting, utility interconnection, construction management, etc. Energy Trust may pay up to 50% of the cost of hiring a consultant to provide expert assistance for these activities, up to a maximum of $40,000.

Hydroelectric installations: Incentive levels are based on a project’s costs in comparison to the market value of the energy produced (above-market cost). There is no cap or fixed percentage of the amount of above-market costs we will pay. In return for our funding contribution, we ask for a negotiated share of the project’s Renewable Energy Certificates, which are held in trust for the ratepayers who contribute to Energy Trust.

Incentive offers are subject to availability of funding and may change.

Tax Credits, Grants and Loan Guarantees

State and federal tax credits, grants, and loan guarantees can play an important role in making projects financially viable. Some tax credits require pre-authorization. For instance, spending money on a project prior to pre-authorization can jeopardize eligibility for Oregon’s Business Energy Tax Credit. Consult your tax professional to learn how tax credits and rules apply to your project. This information does not constitute tax advice and cannot be used to avoid tax penalties. Read more about these opportunities.

All projects must be less than 20MW in nameplate capacity and must deliver power to either Portland General Electric or Pacific Power in Oregon. Hydroelectric projects cannot be located in an environmentally protected area as defined by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council or any other Federal or State entity.

Projects that would deliver power to Pacific Power and that are requesting an Energy Trust incentive greater than $150,000 must compete for Energy Trust funding. For more information about eligibility and the competitive funding process, contact Jed Jorgensen at 503.445.7611.

Incentives are not intended to influence consumer decisions on fuel sources.

Step 1: Let’s talk. If you have a hydropower resource and are interested in using it to generate electricity, contact Jed Jorgensen at 503.445.7611.

Step 2: Get the help you need. Depending on your project’s complexity, you may need to commission a feasibility study or get expert assistance to move through permitting or utility interconnection. Energy Trust may provide up to $40,000 in support for these and other types of project development activities, and we can help you identify engineers or other experts with experience in the area where you need assistance. Additional project development assistance resources up to $150,000 per project may be available on a competitive basis.

  1. To apply for this kind of assistance from Energy Trust, applicants must complete and submit an Energy Trust Project Enrollment Application (Form 910E – PDF | Doc) and a Request for Funding (Form 930RF – PDF | Doc).
  2. If the application is approved, the participant will receive a "Project Enrollment Approval Notice" and a copy of the approved funding request from Energy Trust. The participant will also be required to submit a Substitute W-9 (PDF) at that time.
  3. If you are chosen to receive assistance from Energy Trust, you and your selected consultant will work together to complete the pre-approved work by its deadline.
  4. After the work is completed, the participant submits required documentation (described in the 930RF) including proof that the work was completed and the consultant(s) was paid in full.

Step 3: Once your project is well along in the development process, the next step is to apply for an incentive from Energy Trust. A complete project application must be received before construction begins. For projects that receive funding, payment begins upon project completion. In most cases, Energy Trust makes payments over the first few years of a project's operating life, contingent upon its electricity production.

To apply for an incentive:

  • Contact Jed Jorgensen to request a Project Application. Projects that would deliver power to Pacific Power and that are requesting an Energy Trust incentive greater than $150,000 must compete for Energy Trust funding. All other eligible projects will be processed on a first come, first served basis.

Use the following project enrollment forms to apply for Energy Trust cash incentives:

Project Development Assistance Forms

  • Form 910E (PDF | Doc): Project Enrollment Application
  • Form 930RF (PDF | Doc): Request for Funding

Forms for Hydropower Projects

Learn more about the basics of hydropower

Not sure if you have enough head (pressure) and flow (moving water) to generate hydroelectricity? Unsure what those terms mean? Take a few minutes to learn the basics of hydropower.

Download Intro to Hydropower, Parts 1-3 (1Mb pdf; Reprinted with permission. © 2008 Home Power Inc.). This article includes explanations of the terminology and system components involved in hydropower and gives simple techniques for estimating the capacity of hydrological resources, particularly streams.

Download Energy Trust's Hydroelectric Permitting and Interconnection Guidebooks

There are different state and federal permitting requirement for hydropower depending on a project’s size and location. For first time developers, the permitting and utility interconnection processes can seem especially daunting. As described on the Details tab of this webpage, Energy Trust offers Project Development Assistance Incentives to encourage developers to engage permitting professionals to speed up the development process.

To learn about the federal permitting requirements for your project visit the following links:



The guidebooks below have been written for both new and experienced developers and are intended to serve as a roadmap to Oregon’s permitting requirements and to the utility interconnection process.

Guide to State Permitting Processes

Interconnection Guidebook for Developers of Small Scale Renewable Energy Generation Systems

Utility Interconnection for Small Renewable Energy Projects—Rules of Thumb, References, and Relevant Case Studies