Hydropower Projects 101

HRC or member-contributed


Hydropower Reform Coalition, River Management Society, National Park Service



Presentations and trainingsPublished   3/13/2024

This foundational training is designed to equip new practitioners with a fundamental understanding of the project types, key components, common operation scenarios, and how projects generate and deliver power. Throughout the session, participants will delve into key aspects, gaining insights to:

  • Understand how conventional and pumped storage projects operate.
  • Examine various parts of projects, including Dams & diversions, Release gates, Control structures and spillways, Bypass reaches, and Pentstocks & turbines.
  • Investigate the generating capacity, differences between Load following (peaking) and run of river operations, and how these affect megawatts and flows.
  • Examine how projects generate power and send it to the grid (Direct to customers, Power Purchase Agreements, Regional trading hubs, and co-ops).

This webinar explores concepts outlined in the Hydropower Licensing 101 Toolkit, specifically in the following areas: “The Licensing Process”, “Regulations & Regulatory Roles”.

This session also aligns with the following core competencies identified in the document “Technical Core Competencies: River Management Specialists and Non-Specialists”: Other Relevant Laws, Policies and Tools for River Management, River Management Planning.


Dave Steindorf (American Whitewater) has been an active river advocate in California since 1997. As a Stewardship Director for American Whitewater, Dave has gained a reputation as a consensus builder. He has been able to gain the respect of Agencies, NGO’’s, and Utilities while successfully achieving the goals of his constituents. As the primary negotiator for American Whitewater in California, Dave has negotiated improved flows on more than twenty hydroelectric projects in California. These agreements have restored rivers, while providing reliable power to the grid and protecting water supply. Additionally, Dave was the Chair of the California Hydropower Reform Coalition from 2007 to 2021. This coalition, which includes state and national NGOs, work on relicensing and energy policy that helps to make hydropower green. With a background in Economics, Dave has been keenly interested in the changing energy landscape. In 2017 Dave was invited to testify before the House of Representative’s Energy and Commerce Committee to educate members on the role of hydropower in energy markets and how to optimize power generation in a way that has the least impact on rivers.

Kevin Lewis (National Park Service) has been involved with hydropower licensing since the mid 1990’s. Kevin started as a volunteer with his local whitewater paddling club, then in 2004 Kevin joined Idaho Rivers United as the organization’s Conservation Director. During his tenure with IRU, Kevin worked on a number of relicensing projects as well as representing IRU on the steering committee of the Hydropower Reform Coalition. Kevin retired at the end of 2019 and is now assisting the National Park Service’s hydropower program.

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Presentations and trainings   3/21/2024

Hydropower’s Role in the Energy Market