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Farmers Irrigation District new hydro system boosts clean energy generation

Hydropower system will generate 12 percent more renewable power and save up to $150,000 annually

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HOOD RIVER, Ore. — October 20, 2015 — Today Farmers Irrigation District unveiled a 3-megawatt hydropower turbine that generates energy from water flowing through irrigation pipes, replacing two older turbines and repowering the district’s operations with a more efficient system. The district began investing in hydropower in 1986 as a way to generate revenue and defray the cost of delivering water to approximately 5,800 acres and 1,900 residential and agricultural users, including the high-value pear, apple, wine grape and cherry crops for which the region is known.

The new turbine and generator will produce 12 percent more renewable power than the older turbines, bringing in $130,000 more in revenue. In addition, the district expects to save its customers $100,000 to $150,000 per year in maintenance costs. The project was made possible in part by Energy Trust of Oregon, which provided a $900,000 incentive for the $4.96 million project delivering power to Pacific Power.

Farmers Irrigation District unveiled the new turbine and generator at an event Tuesday afternoon with Energy Trust and the Oregon Governor’s office. The event also celebrated more than 30 years of improvements in irrigation infrastructure, enabling Farmers Irrigation District to save 65 percent of the water previously diverted for irrigation, provide pressurized water to local farms and orchards, return water to the Hood River to benefit salmon and steelhead, generate renewable energy, improve drought resilience and strengthen the local economy.

“Energy Trust has been a resource for us through several energy-efficiency and hydropower projects. The cash incentives make a significant difference on project economics,” said Jer Camarata, manager, Farmers Irrigation District. “Our work shows the many benefits we can achieve in the agricultural, environmental and energy sectors by simply changing the way water is managed.”

Working with Energy Trust, farmers and other landowners, Farmers Irrigation District has increased its annual power generation by more than 3 million kilowatt hours over the years. In total, the district’s generators now reliably produce about 25 million kWh per year and provide enough low-impact hydropower equal to powering more than 2,000 homes.

“Farmers Irrigation District is a model for other irrigators seeking to improve energy and water management, achieving its vision of becoming a modern irrigation district through renewable energy generation, water conservation, energy conservation, and improved fish and wildlife habitat,” said Peter West, director of energy programs, Energy Trust. “This project is a perfect example of the extended impact we can have in Oregon by working with irrigation districts throughout the state in building sustainable solutions for water and energy management.”

In Oregon, Farmers Irrigation District is one of about 20 small-scale hydropower systems that together have generated nearly $90 million in revenue and led to increased summer stream flows, installation of fish screens, removal of passage barriers and increased collaboration within watershed communities. Energy Trust is working collaboratively on projects with other, similar organizations, such as Central Oregon Irrigation District in Bend and Three Sisters Irrigation District in Sisters.

MEDIA NOTE: Images and video from the Farmers Irrigation District event are available for media use here or contact Leslie Carlson at or 503-805-5560.

FARMERS IRRIGATION DISTRICT: Farmers Irrigation District strives to promote ecologically, socially and economically sustainable agriculture by providing energy and irrigation service for the common good. Farmers Irrigation District is located in Hood River, Oregon, in the beautiful, culturally rich Columbia River Gorge. It is a nonprofit government agency founded in 1874. Water is provided to over 5,800 acres of land, both residential and agricultural. The Hood River Valley produces large quantities of high-value pears, apples, cherries and wine grapes. For more information, visit

ENERGY TRUST: Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save nearly $1.9 billion on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at or call 1-866-368-7878.

Category: Renewable Energy