Human activities are directly related to fossil fuel consumption and cause global warming and climate change effects by emitting greenhouse gas into the lower atmosphere. To reduce and adapt to such effects, renewable energy sources such as surface dams, including hydroelectric energy (HE) generation units, are gaining importance. In the current literature, HE potential calculations are based on formulations that are quite simple, clear and do not distinguish between different situations. In this paper, two classification methodologies are proposed for better assessment of HE production. The first one is based on the concept of the hypsographic curve to distinguish different drainage basin features into “Young,” “Mature” and “Old.” The second classification takes into account the newly defined energy index (EI) principle, which helps to classify the HE generation capability of drainage basins into “Very low,” “Low,” “Normal,” “High” and “Very high.” The application of the proposed methodology is presented for three drainage basins from the upstream sub-basins of the Tigris River in Turkey. A comparison of the results shows that the proposed methodologies not only give numerical values but also sets linguistically rational and logical rules for the HE potential of a drainage basin. In the upstream basin of the Tigris River, the EI values vary between 0.705 and 0.122, corresponding to the “High” and “Low” categories, respectively. It is recommended that these two classification procedures be considered before the construction of any dam for HE production.