Memorial Day closure

Most City of Portland offices will be closed Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.

About the Portland Hydroelectric Project

View of powerhouse from above dam 1
The Portland Hydroelectric Project generates electricity from dams in the Bull Run Watershed.

The Portland Hydroelectric Project (PHP) operates under a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in February 1979. The license expires in 2029, and under federal law the City must initiate a five-year regulatory process to relicense the project no later than February 2024.


The PHP is located about 25 miles east of Portland in the Bull Run Watershed, which is the primary source of drinking water in the Portland metro area.


Dam with water coming down the spillway and a powerhouse sitting in front.

Total PHP power generation capacity is 36 megawatts and provides enough ongoing power for approximately 10,000 homes in the region. Operating facilities include two powerhouses located below Bull Run Dam 1 and Dam 2, as well as associated infrastructure and 10 miles of  power lines.

The dams and reservoirs that supply water to operate the PHP were originally constructed in the 1920s (Dam 1) and 1960s (Dam 2) to provide a reliable drinking water supply to the City of Portland. These facilities allow the Water Bureau to store year-round rainfall to help meet consumers’ demand.

In 1978 the City began construction of the hydropower infrastructure, and electricity generation began in 1981. A powerhouse on each dam is used not only to generate clean energy, but also to manage reservoir levels and stream flows through the dams. Hydropower generation is a supplemental benefit of operating the water supply system. Drinking water supply operations and associated regulatory requirements take priority over hydropower generation.  

Habitat conservation

Bull Run Lake on a sunny day

Water flow through the PHP is managed in accordance with a 1979 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license and the requirements of the Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The HCP, approved in 2009, is a 50-year regulatory agreement that addresses the environmental impacts of the water supply system and prescribes the City’s work to protect and improve aquatic habitat. The purpose of the HCP is to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act while continuing to use the Bull Run Watershed for water supply. The PHP operates in accordance with HCP requirements, but the PHP is not specifically covered by the HCP due to the pre-existing FERC license.