The US Energy Department has announced an incentive program for developers adding hydroelectric power generating capabilities to existing non-powered dams throughout the United States.

More than 80,000 non-powered dams throughout the country provide services such as regulating local waterways and controlling inland navigation. Equipping local, non-powered dams with generating capabilities has the potential to provide up to 12GW of cost-competitive, renewable energy at a lower cost than creating new powered dam structures, without impacting critical habitats, parks, or wilderness areas, the department said in a statement.

The funding opportunity announced this time supports developers who have already added electrical generating capacity to these existing facilities.

As outlined in Section 242 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, $3.6 million in funding is available for incentive payments to owners or operators of qualified hydroelectric facilities based on the number of kilowatt hours of hydroelectric energy generated by the facility in calendar year 2013. Qualified applicants may receive up to 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour for hydroelectric energy generated by the facility during the incentive period. Qualified owners or operators who have added hydroelectric generation to a non-powered dam or conduit after 2005, and where the facility was built prior to 2005, are eligible to apply. In order to qualify for the Section 242 Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program, applicants must review the final guidance and supply the required information. Please visit the Water Power Program’s hydropower research and development website for further details.

Applications are due February 20, 2015.