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 Hydropower at Big Bend

Power generation began at the facility in 1964 and the entire complex was completed in 1966 at a total cost of $107 million.

Big Bend hydroelectric power plant is operated to meet peak demands for electricity in the Missouri River Basin. The power plant houses eight units with combined maximum generation capacity of 494,320 kilowatts. This is enough power for about 95,000 homes. The first unit went into operation in 1964 and by 1966 all eight generators were producing commercial electricity.

The power plant itself is 757 feet long, 200 feet wide, and has a height of 205 feet (Elevation 1,447 to 1,242 msl). Electrical power is transmitted through transmission lines and is marketed by Western Area Power Administration.

A unique characteristic of Big Bend is that it is the only plant where power pays 100% of the joint costs. Additionally, three of eight units are connected to the electric grid as synchronous condensers for voltage and reactive power support. With approximately 20 percent of the Omaha District generation capacity, Big Bend operates its large low head turbines in a peaking manner generating approximately 10 percent of the total Missouri River production.

 Characteristics and Value

Characteristics and Value


8 -Fixed Blade Kaplan Turbines, 82 rpm

Nameplate Capacity

494 MW

· 3 units: 67.3MW

· 5 units: 58.5 MW

Percent of NWO Capacity


Average Gross Head

70 ft

Number & Size of Conduits

None: Direct Intake

Surge Tanks


Discharge Capacity

67’ at 103,000 cfs

Average Annual Energy

986 M kWh

Hydropower Master Plan

The Omaha District has prepared a Hydropower Master Plan outlining the future requirements for sustaining our hydropower mission capability. A strategic master plan will guide future programming and funding for all hydropower sustainment, rehabilitation, and modernization requirements in a way that provides predictable funding and maximizes efficiencies to ensure the long-term resilience and reliability of this critical national infrastructure.

Hydropower Master Plan Book Cover