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ELEPHANT BUTTE POWERPLANT



Elephant Butte Dam and Powerplant

Elephant Butte Dam and Powerplant

Elephant Butte Powerplant

Elephant Butte Powerplant


Plant Contact: Galan Hanson
Manager, Elephant Butte Field Division
Telephone Numbers: Phone: (505) 894-6661
Fax: (505) 864-3651
E-Mail Address: ghanson@uc.usbr.gov
Reclamation Region: Upper Colorado
NERC Region: Western Electricity Coordinating Council, Rocky Mountain Power Area
PMA Service Area: Western Area Power Administration, Colorado River Storage Management Center
Project Authorization:

The Secretary of the Interior authorized the Rio Grande Project on December 2, 1905, under the provision of the Reclamation Act, and funds were allocated to initiate construction of the first diversion unit. The Reclamation Act was extended to the entire State of Texas on June 12, 1906, following a partial extension for Engle (Elephant Butte) Dam in 1905.

Congress authorized the construction of Elephant Butte Dam on February 25, 1905, and on May 4, 1907, $1 million of nonreimbursable funds were appropriated as the State Department's share for allocation of 60,000 acre-feet of water annually to Mexico by treaty. Additional project works authorized under congressional action include Caballo Dam, a combined flood control and power regulating structure and the Elephant Butte power development.

Project Purposes: The Rio Grande Project furnishes a full irrigation water supply for about 178,000 acres of land and electric power for communities and industries in the area. Drainage water from project lands provides a supplemental supply for 18,000 acres in Hudspeth County, Texas. Project lands occupy the river bottom land of the Rio Grande Valley in south-central New Mexico and west Texas.
Plant Facts:

Elephant Butte Dam can store 2,065,010 acre-feet of water to provide irrigation and year-round power generation. A court order has restricted power generation during non-irrigation months. This is a concrete gravity dam 301 feet high and 1,674 feet long, including the spillway. It contains 618,785 cubic yards of concrete. The dam was completed in 1916, but storage operation began in 1915.

The power system consists of a 27,945-kilowatt hydroelectric powerplant at Elephant Butte Dam.

Plant Purpose: Generation of hydroelectric power for the project.
Plant History: A system consisting of 490 miles of 115-kilovolt transmission line and 11 substations totaling 81,750 kilovolt-amperes was developed and operated by the Rio Grande Project until 1977. It was subsequently sold to a private electric company.
Present Activities: Converting Mechanical Governors to Electronic.
Future Planned Activities: Replace runner turbines, replace penstock gate operators.
Special Issues: Costs for Elephant Butte Powerplant were not available to be broken down into smaller elements.
River: Rio Grande River
Plant Type: Conventional
Powerhouse Type: Above Ground
Turbine Type: Francis
Original Nameplate Capacity: 24,300 kW
Installed Capacity: 27,945 kW
Year of Initial Operation: 1940
Age: 65 years
Net Generation:
(FY 2005)
38,449,061 kWh
Rated Head: 140 feet
Plant Factor:
(FY 2005)
15.96 percent (seasonal)
Remotely Operated: No
Production Mode: Base Load


Click here for graphs and charts of Elephant Butte Powerplant performance.

Click here for information on Elephant Butte Dam.

Click here for information on the Rio Grande Project.


Revised December 28, 2005            Hydropower Site Map             Help