Clean Zero-Emission Hydroelectric Energy
Generating Clean Energy
The Merced River Hydroelectric Project is comprised of two hydroelectric powerhouses at New Exchequer Dam and McSwain Dam. Merced Irrigation District also operates the Merced Falls hydroelectric operation. The combined output of the three facilities is 107 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity.
MID’s hydroelectric generation begins when stored rainwater and snowmelt pass from Lake McClure through the New Exchequer powerhouse. Large turbines harness the kinetic energy of the gravity-driven water and transform it into clean, renewable electricity. That electricity is then transmitted out onto the grid. The same water that flows through the New Exchequer powerhouse continues flowing downstream into Lake McSwain. From there it passes through the McSwain Dam powerhouse and then through the Merced Falls Dam powerhouse.
MID and the community it serves benefit significantly from owning and operating the Merced River Hydroelectric Project and Merced Falls Dam. The energy they produce creates no harmful, radioactive byproducts. It also leaves behind no waste. This renewable electricity keeps our environment clean and benefits air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.
In recent years, MID successfully completed a project to upgrade the runner at the McClure powerhouse. The runner captures the energy from water and in turn spins the electric generator. The upgrade resulted in an improved efficiency of 8 percent – meaning the same amount of water flowing through the unit produces 8 percent more electricity.
On average, Exchequer generates approximately 300,000,000 kilowatt-hours per year. The upgrade increased the average to 324,000 megawatt-hours. This means that running the same amount of water through the turbine would generate enough additional energy to serve an additional 2,000 homes.