Hydroelectric Production Managers


Exploring this Job

Explore the hydropower field by reading news and publications offered on the Web sites of professional associations, such as the National Hydropower Association (https://www.hydro.org) and the International Hydropower Association (https://www.hydropower.org). The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides information on the various types of renewable energy, data about its usage in the United States, and other helpful resources at https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/renewable-sources. Conduct an information interview with a hydroelectric production manager to learn more about the job and how to get started in the field. Ask your school's career services office for help setting up an interview and be sure to prepare a list of questions. 

The Job

Hydroelectricity is created through the energy of flowing water that has been released from waterways such as a dam or reservoir. The released water passes through and spins a turbine, which spins generators; the spinning produces electricity. Dams are not needed for "run of the river" projects. For these projects, canals or pipes divert river water to spin turbines.

Other types of hydropower generation being studied include wave energy technologies, in which the energy of ocean waves is used to produce electricity. The northeastern and northwestern coasts of the U.S. offer the best prospects for viable wave-based generation. Tidal energy is also used to generate electricity but there must be a 16-foot difference between high and low tides for this type of energy generation. There are only about 40 places on Earth where this is the case, including sites in the Pacific Northwest and Atlantic Northeast. Tidal energy is harvested by using barges or dams, tidal fences, and tidal turbines.

Hydroelectric production managers oversee the operations of hydroelectric power generation facilities. They work closely with hydroelectric plant technicians, who operate and maintain equipment associated with hydropower generation such as turbines, pumps, valves, electric control boards, gates, fans, and battery banks. Production managers direct the operations, maintenance, and repair of hydroelectric power facilities. They monitor production equipment, performing regularly scheduled inspections, repairs, and maintenance. They monitor the operations of hydroelectric equipment such as hydro-turbines, generators, and control systems.

The job also requires daily record-keeping regarding the hydropower facility's operations, maintenance, and repairs. Hydroelectric production managers use various software programs to accomplish these tasks. They are well versed in facilities management software such as computerized maintenance management systems; industrial control software, such as distributed control systems; and supervisory control and data acquisition software. They also use e-mail software, Microsoft Excel for creating and reading spreadsheets, and Microsoft Word to write reports, letters, and other publications.