Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Texas Comptroller Energy Tour: Hydroelectric Power Overview

Hydroelectric Power Snapshot | Print Snapshot (PDF)


Texas has long been a leader in the energy industry; its abundance of fossil fuels and renewable sources generate electricity for the state and make substantial contributions to the Texas economy. Texas’ energy use is tied to its large population, hot climate and extensive industrial sector, and the state depends on reliable and affordable energy. One important source of energy for the state is hydropower, which uses the natural flow of moving water to generate electricity.

Hydropower in Texas

According to the 2023 U.S. Hydropower Market Report by the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2022 hydropower contributed nearly 29 percent of renewable energy across the entire United States and 6 percent of all electricity in the U.S.1 While abundant in other states, in 2022, hydropower contributed just 0.1 percent of power to the 214 out of 254 ERCOT-serviced Texas counties.2 There are 26 hydropower plants across the state, all located near bodies of water such as lakes and reservoirs to be functional. In total, these plants have a generating capacity of nearly 738 megawatts (MW) (Exhibit 1).3 In 2019, about 2.9 million Texans were served by hydropower plants in their areas.4 During times of energy crises in Texas, such as during power outages or rolling blackouts, hydropower plants direct their generated electricity to areas of need.5

Exhibit 1
Hydropower Plants in Texas, 2022
Dam Name Owner Capacity (Megawatt-hour)
Abbott TP 3 Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority 2.8
Amistad Dam & Power International Boundary and Water Commission 66
Arlington Outlet Hydroelectric Generator Tarrant Regional Water District 1.3
Buchanan Dam Lower Colorado River Authority 54.9
Canyon Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority 6
Denison USCE-Tulsa District 104.3
Dunlap TP 1 Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority 3.6
Eagle Pass Hydro Maverick City Water Control and Improvement 9.6
Falcon Dam & Power International Boundary and Water Commission 31.5
Gonzales Hydro Plant City of Gonzales 0.9
H4 Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority 2.4
H5 Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority 2.4
Inks Dam Lower Colorado River Authority 15
Lake Livingston East Texas Electric Cooperative 26.7
Lewisville Lake Dam City of Garland 2.8
Mansfield Dam (Marshall Ford) Lower Colorado River Authority 108
Nolte Guadalupe Blanco River Authority 2.4
Robert D Willis USCE-Fort Worth District 8
Saffold Dam (Seguin) City of Seguin 0.25
Sam Rayburn USCE-Fort Worth District 52
Starcke Dam (Marble Falls) Lower Colorado River Authority 39.6
Toledo Bend Entergy Texas 81
Tom Miller Dam (Austin) Lower Colorado River Authority 18
TP4 Guadalupe Blanco River Authority 2.4
Whitney USCE-Fort Worth District 41.8
Wirtz Dam (Granite Shoals) Lower Colorado River Authority 54

Source: National Hydropower Association

According to Chmura, a labor and economic market research consulting and software firm, hydroelectric power generation contributed almost 3,000 jobs with an average annual wage of nearly $172,000 to the Texas economy in 2022. Harris County boasts 43 percent of all hydropower generation jobs in the state. In 2021, hydroelectric power generation contributed $700 million to Texas’ gross domestic product.6


Federal funding has paved the way for the advancement of hydropower in Texas. The Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA), an office of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), distributes federal resources to sustainably provide hydropower to six states, including Texas, where about $103 million in SWPA funds are committed to supporting hydropower infrastructure.7

Beneficiaries of this funding include Central Texas’ Whitney Dam. Originally built in 1947, the dam received $32 million in funding from SWPA in 2017 for rehabilitation and upgrades, which resulted in an increase in capacity megawatt hours.8

The 2021 federal Inflation Reduction Act provided $783 billion dollars in tax relief to promote clean energy throughout the U.S. Of this funding, $369 billion in tax credits were allocated to “provide investment certainty for retrofits of dams with hydropower generation,” allowing dams in Texas and elsewhere to implement hydropower-generating capacity.9

More recently in 2022, the DOE created additional funding opportunities for U.S. hydropower projects through the federal Infrastructure Law – more than $28 million in funding across three target areas (Exhibit 2). These newly created funding opportunities aim to support the federal goals of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.10

Exhibit 2
Federal Hydropower Funding, 2021 - 2022
Purpose Funding Amount
2021 Federal Inflation Reduction Act To provide upgrades to existing hydropower facilities, retrofit non-powered dams, and develop new pumped storage facilities through a new technology-neutral energy storage investment tax credit. $369 billion
2022 DOE Federal Infrastructure Law - Funding Opportunity 1 To advance the sustainable development of hydropower and pumped storage facilities by retrofitting non-powered dams and developing technology that helps mitigate challenges to pumped storage deployment. $14.5 million
2022 DOE Federal Infrastructure Law - Funding Opportunity 2 To support transmission studies, power market assessments and other studies required to license, construct and commission new pumped storage hydropower facilities. $10 million
2022 DOE Federal Infrastructure Law - Funding Opportunity 3 To advance the efforts of diverse hydropower stakeholders on topics such as modernization, sustainability and environmental impact. $4 million
Total $397.5 billion

Source: National Hydropower Association, U.S. Department of Energy

Current Issues

Climate issues such as drought pose a threat to hydropower-generated electricity, as well as other forms of energy that may rely on water usage. According to a 2021 report from the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the possibility of extreme drought in the near future has the possibility of disrupting 20 percent of the state’s water-dependent power plants, including hydropower and thermoelectric power plants that rely on cooling water.11 Additionally, a 2021 report conducted by the World Wildlife Fund found that hydropower plants in Texas, among other states, are at the  increased risk of experiencing water scarcity by 2050 due to climate change.12 According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, As of Oct. 3, 2023, nearly 80 percent of Texas is in drought, and any increase in drought may further threaten hydropower.13


Hydroelectric generation has experienced ups and downs over the past decade. In 2021, hydroelectric power generated over one million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, almost double the 584,474 MWh generated in 2012. While hydroelectric generation rose significantly from 2012 to 2021, recent years generated less power than at its peak of 1.5 million MWh in 2019 (Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3
Annual Texas Hydroelectric Generation, 2012-2021 (MWh in millions) 14
YEAR GENERATION (Megawatthours)
2012 0.58
2013 0.48
2014 0.39
2015 0.96
2016 1.34
2017 1.06
2018 1.13
2019 1.48
2020 1.08
2021 1.08

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

The most recently constructed hydropower plant in Texas is the R.C. Thomas Hydroelectric Project, located at the Livingston Dam in the city of Livingston. This plant took 14 years to build, opening in July 2020. The R.C. Thomas Hydroelectric Project powers more than 12,000 homes in East Texas and has proven to be a reliable and worthy investment, demonstrating the positive utility of hydropower for other non-powered dams throughout the state.

While hydropower generation makes up just a small portion of Texas’ energy portfolio, its impact reaches millions of Texans across the state. Hydropower is a low-cost, clean source of energy that can support communities during both times of crisis and daily life. Newly created funding at the federal level promotes growth; however, climate issues like drought may negatively impact the current and future use of hydropower. Ultimately, the success of hydropower depends on the successful management of Texas’ existing and future water supply.


Links are correct at the time of publication. The Comptroller's office is not responsible for external websites.

  1. U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable, “How Does Solar Work?,” (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023.)
  2. Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Fuel Mix Report 2022, (Last visited Oct. 30, 2023.)
  3. U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable, “Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power Basics?,” (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023.)
  4. ScienceDirect, “Cost and production of solar thermal and solar photovoltaics power plants in the United States,” (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023.)
  5. Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Fuel Mix Report: 2022, (Last visited Sept. 18, 2023.);
    Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Fuel Mix Report: 2007 - 2020, (Last visited Sept. 18, 2023
  6. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Texas Profile Analysis,” (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023.)
  7. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “EIA-923 Power Plant Operations Report, Net Generation by State by Type of Producers by Energy Source, 1990-2021,” (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023.)
  8. Solar Energy Industries Association “Texas Solar,” (2023) (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023)
  9. Public Utility Commission of Texas, New Electric Generating Plants in Texas since 1995, (Last visited Sept. 28, 2023.)
  10. Chmura JobsEQ
  11. Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), “Solar Jobs Census,’ (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023.)
  12. Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), “Texas: Solar and Clean Energy Jobs,” (Last visited Sept. 27, 2023.)
  13. PV Magazine, ”Texas curtailed 9% of solar generation in 2022,” (Last visited Oct. 11, 2023.)
  14. MIT Technology Review, ”The $2.5 trillion reason we can’t rely on batteries to clean up the grid,” (Last visited Oct. 12, 2023.)
  15. Energy5, ”Advancements in Lithium-Ion Battery Technology for Solar Energy Storage,” (Last visited Oct. 12, 2023.)
  16. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Land Use & Solar Development,” (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023.)
  17. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “More than half of new U.S. electric-generating capacity in 2023 will be solar,” (Last visited Sept. 25, 2023.)
  18. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Solar Industry Research Data,” (Last visited Sept. 25, 2023.)
  19. Solar Energy Industries Association “Texas Solar,” (2023) (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023)
  20. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, “Solar lights up outlook for renewable energy in Texas,” (Last visited Sept. 12, 2023.)
  21. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “As Texas wind and solar capacity increase, energy curtailments are also likely to rise,” (Last visited Sept. 25, 2023.)