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Minor Projects

A minor hydroelectric project is less than 100 theoretical horsepower in capacity and is eligible for a license under ORS 543.160. A minor hydroelectric license may be issued for a period of 20 to 50 years.

Theoretical horsepower (THP) is calculated by the water flow through the turbines in cubic feet per second multiplied by the head in feet (difference in elevation from the place where the water is diverted to the elevation at which it is released from the turbine) and divided by 8.8.  (Water flow cfs * Head ft / 8.8) = THP

Environmental Review Criteria

ORS 543.017 prohibits any hydroelectric development that may result in mortality or injury to anadromous salmon and steelhead resources or loss of natural habitat of any anadromous salmon and steelhead resources.  All hydroelectric development must be consistent with the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program adopted by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.  There may not be potential impacts that would result in a net loss of wild game fish or recreational opportunities.  Protected areas for anadromous fish are shown on these maps

Other natural values in the project vicinity including water quality, wildlife, scenic and aesthetic values, and historic, cultural and archaeological sites shall be maintained or enhanced.

  • ​Applicant consults with WRD, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and other natural resource agencies on project impacts and potential mitigation strategies.  At the time of consultation, WRD should advise whether the project is within a “protected area” of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.  If so, then anadromous salmon or steelhead may be at risk from the Project, therefore the project cannot go forward under ORS 543.017.
  • Minor Hydroelectric application is received with $500 fee.
  • WRD determines if the project is in an area that has been withdrawn by the Oregon Water Resources Commission, then a basin program exception may be requested under ORS 536.295 ($575). 
  • Application is placed on the Department’s Weekly Public Notice beginning a 30-day comment period.  WRD notifies other natural resource agencies and property owners within 300 feet of the proposed powerhouse about the application and asks for specific comments on the project impacts.
  • Site visit is scheduled with ODFW and DEQ.
  • Proposed Final Order issued and placed on the Department’s Weekly Public Notice​ beginning a 60-day protest period;
  • If no protest is received, a Final Order is issued, the applicant pays an additional $500 fee and receives a 20 to 50 year minor hydroelectric license or if an eligible municipal entity – a water right permit.  The license or permit includes reference to an annual fee, bypass flow requirements and other license conditions as appropriate.
  • If a protest is received, the case is referred to the Administrative Hearings Office. WRD will be represented by the Attorney General’s Office.