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Folsom Dam and Powerplant

Folsom Dam and Powerplant

Plant Contact: Mike Finnegan
Area Manager, Central California Area Office
Telephone Numbers: Phone: (916) 988-1707
Fax: (916) 989-7208
E-Mail Address: mfinnegan@mp.usbr.gov
Reclamation Region: Mid-Pacific
NERC Region: Western Electricity Coordinating Council, California-Southern Nevada Power Area
PMA Service Area: Western Area Power Administration, Sierra Nevada Region
Project Authorization: Funds for construction of the initial features of the Central Valley Project were provided by the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 (49 Stat. 115). The Secretary of the Interior authorized the project and the President approved it on December 2, 1935.
Project Purposes:

The Central Valley Project, one of the Nation's major water conservation developments, extends from the Cascade Range on the north to the semiarid but fertile plains along the Kern River on the south. Initial features of the project were built primarily to protect the Central Valley from crippling water shortages and menacing floods. New project units were built to provide water and power to match the continued growth of the State.

Although developed primarily for irrigation, this multiple-purpose project also provides flood control, improves Sacramento River navigation, supplies domestic and industrial water, generates electric power, conserves fish and wildlife, creates opportunities for recreation, and enhances water quality.

Plant Purpose: Folsom is a peaking powerplant which is dedicated first to meeting the requirements of the project facilities. The remaining energy is marketed to various preference customers in northern California. This plant also provides power for the pumping plant, which supplies the local domestic water supply.
Plant Facts: Folsom Dam is a concrete gravity structure 340 feet high and 36 feet wide at the crest. The crest is 1,400 feet long. Folsom Powerplant, constructed by Reclamation, is located at the foot of Folsom Dam on the north side of the river. Water from the dam is released through three 15-foot-diameter penstocks to three generating units.
Plant History: Folsom Dam was constructed by the Corps of Engineers and upon completion was transferred to the Bureau of Reclamation for coordinated operation as an integral part of the Central Valley Project. Construction of the dam began in October 1948 and was completed in May 1955. The units were up rated in 1972.
Present Activities: Folsom Powerplant is an integral component of the Reservoir Flood Control Operation. The powerplant is used to augment early flood control releases.
Future Planned Activities: The powerplant will continue to be used to augment early flood control releases from the reservoir. Continued peaking operation is planned as releases permit. Folsom is providing a larger degree of local voltage control.
Special Issues: Folsom is being increasingly relied upon to support local loads during system disturbances.
River: American River
Plant Type: Conventional
Powerhouse Type: Above Ground
Turbine Type: Francis
Original Nameplate Capacity: 162,000 kW
Installed Capacity: 198,720 kW
Year of Initial Operation: 1955
Age: 50 years
Net Generation
(FY 2005):
691,358,000 kWh
Rated Head: 300 feet
Plant Factor
(FY 2005):
39.84 percent
Remotely Operated: Yes
Production Mode: Intermediate

Click here for graphs and charts of Folsom Powerplant performance.

Click here for information on Folsom Dam.

Click here for information on the Central Valley Project.

Revised December 27, 2005            Hydropower Site Map             Help