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Carmen Smith Hydroelectric Project
Carmen Smith Hydroelectric Project
Location: Upper McKenzie River
Nearest Town: McKenzie Bridge, OR
Capacity: 114 MW
Date built: 1963
Licensed through: 2008


The Carmen-Smith Hydroelectric Project, located 71 miles east of Eugene on the upper McKenzie River, is EWEB's largest utility-owned power source.

The project is operated as a peaking and load-following facility, using the water stored in the three project reservoirs. Power generation is increased during the times of the day when customers' use of electricity is the greatest—in the winter that is typically early morning and early evening hours. In addition to peaking, the project provides on-demand power to support EWEB's alternative energy resources including wind power.

The Carmen Diversion Reservoir, filled by the McKenzie River flowing from its headwaters at Clear Lake, has minimal storage capacity and is used to divert water into a tunnel leading to Smith Reservoir. From Smith Reservoir, water is routed through a second tunnel to the Carmen Power Plant, which discharges into Trail Bridge Reservoir, and then flows through the Trail Bridge Power Plant and back into the McKenzie River below Trail Bridge Dam. The Carmen Power Plant operates in a peaking mode, while the Trail Bridge Development operates as a re-regulating facility. The overall operational mode of the project is such that, on an average daily basis, inflow to the project nearly matches outflow at the Trail Bridge Power Plant tailrace.

The Carmen-Smith Hydroelectric Project consists of following facilities:

  • Carmen Diversion Dam, reservoir, and diversion tunnel
  • Smith River Dam, reservoir and power tunnel
  • Carmen Power Plant and substation
  • Trail Bridge Dam, reservoir, power plant, campground and spawning channel
  • A transmission line (19 miles, 115 kilovolts) from Carmen Substation to the Bonneville Power Administration's Cougar switchyard (near the Army Corps of Engineer's Cougar Dam)

EWEB is seeking a new, 50-year operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A new license is expected to be issued in late 2013.