Original Paper

Energy Systems

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 325-357

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Regional energy markets and the cost of natural flow dam operation

  • F. T. SparrowAffiliated withEnergy Center at Discovery Park, Purdue University Email author 
  • , P. V. PreckelAffiliated withEnergy Center at Discovery Park, Purdue University
  • , D. J. GothamAffiliated withEnergy Center at Discovery Park, Purdue University
  • , B. H. BowenAffiliated withAmerican University in Kosovo
  • , Z. YuAffiliated withEmberClear, Inc.


With the proliferation of electricity markets for the purchase and sale of firm and non-firm power and capacity, the possibility exists for using trade in these commodities to minimize the cost impact of operating dams to restore downstream flows to pre-dam patterns—so called Run of River (ROR) dam operation. We examine the impact of such markets on the incremental costs of ROR operation relative to least cost operation via a stochastic, dynamic optimization model. We identify features of the dam structure and of the economic environment that are critical to achieving ROR operation at modest incremental cost.


Run of river Hydroelectric dam operation and capacity expansion Stochastic optimization