LIHI Certificate #45 - Farmers Irrigation District Hydroelectric Project, Oregon

Farmers Irrigation District Hydroelectric Projects are located on canals discharging to the main stem of the Hood River near the ColumbiaRiver Gorge about 60 miles west of Portland, Oregon. The project including penstocks and powerhouses, were constructed in the mid-1980s to produce renewable energy for the Bonneville Power grid and provide revenue to the District to be used for water conservation, stream restoration, and fish screen projects. The project consists of two powerhouses. The upper powerhouse (No. 3) contains a 1.8 MW generator with a horizontal axis Pelton turbine; the lower powerhouse (No. 2) contains two generators – 1.0 MW and 2.0 MW – driven by horizontal axis Francis turbines. Each plant has its own switchgear, and electricity flows from both plants to a single substation, which is connected directly to the Bonneville grid.

The projects are run-of-river, and no dams are associated with the project's six water diversion systems. Water flows to the upper powerhouse (Plant No. 3) forebay through the 10-mile long Lowline canal and pipe system; water to the lower plant forebay flows through the 5-mile long Farmers canal and pipe system. The project has no reservoir storage other than the forebay, canal, and pipe systems. A 5-mile long, 36-inch diameter penstock provides water to the upper turbine, and a 2-mile long, 48-inch diameter penstock conveys water to the lower turbines. Water from the upper plant also flows through the lower plant. Farmers Irrigation District owns the project facilities and holds easements for the canals, pipes, forebays, penstocks, and transmission lines.

The District diverts its project water through self-cleaning, horizontal fish screens, a technology developed by the District that allows fish to pass through the diversion systems without harm. The District maintains year-round minimum flows in Green Point Creek, a premier anadromous fish-bearing stream that is one of the sources of water for the upper plant. Plant No. 3 is operated at reduced capacity if Green Point Creek flow drops below the minimum, and the plant typically does not run at all during the summer months. In the 1990s, the Hood River was listed for threatened salmon and steelhead, and the Hood River was also placed on the Clean Water Act 303d list for water temperature. In the response to these listings, in a concerted effort to ensure that the District's power plants are low impact, the District works with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to alter plant operation to enhance Hood River mainstem in-stream flow during the summer months and ensure that the District's project does not increase water temperature.

Project Name Farmers Irrigation District
LIHI Certificate No. 45
LIHI Certificate Term March 25, 2014 - March 25, 2019 Extended to June 30, 2020
Owner Farmers Irrigation District
State Oregon
Location Located off of the main stem of the Hood River near the Columbia River Gorge, about 60 miles west of Portland, Oregon. Plant No. 2 discharges to the Hood River at river mile 4.5
Installed Capacity 4.8 MW
Average Annual Generation 22,000 MWh
Facility Type Conduit
FERC No. FID No. 2 P-7532 exempt 1984 FID No. 3 P-6801 exempt 1983

Certification History

June 18, 2020:  The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the Farmers Irrigation District Project (LIHI #45) for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification. The Certificate includes the following condition:

Condition 1: The facility Owner shall continue to operate the Project in accordance with the 2019 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with ODFW and ODEQ and provide status updates to LIHI in annual compliance statements.  Updates should specify if operations are modified as a result of the adaptive management program, or if the MOA is revised during the LIHI term.

This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to with "Farmers Irrigation District Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. All requests will be posted to the website. The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on July 18, 2020. The full application and reviewer's report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be March 25, 2019 through March 24, 2029.

March 31, 2020:  The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Recertification of the Farmers Irrigation District Hydroelectric Project.  LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s application materials below.

Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered.  Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at with “Farmers Irrigation District Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420.  Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on May 30, 2020 to be considered.  All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.  Any response will also be posted.

April 22, 2014: The Farmer’s Irrigation District Hydroelectric Projects have been certified for a second five year term, effective March 25, 2014 and expiring March 25, 2019.

January 27, 2014: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received an application from Farmers Irrigation District for a second term of certification. The application materials are available in the “Files” section below.

November 20, 2009: The Farmers Irrigation District Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective March 25, 2009 and expiring March 25, 2014.

March 25, 2009: The Farmers Irrigation District has submitted an application for certification of its small-scale hydroelectric project. A public comment period will remain open for 60 days, ending on May 25, 2009.


2020 Recertification

2014 Recertification

2009 Certification