A simple method for estimating the potential of currents in tidal channels to produce power is presented. The method only requires measurement of the peak tidal volume transport through the channel without turbines, along with a bottom drag coefficient and the channel’s dimensions. A recent existing method for estimating potential requires measurements of the undisturbed transport as well as water levels at both ends of the channel to give the head loss. The adaptation of the existing method presented here exploits analytic solutions for the transport and optimal farm drag coefficient and does not require measurement of the head loss. The equations presented allow both the channel’s potential and the flow reduction due to power extraction to be estimated using a calculator. Thus the presented method has much of the ease of use of the older KE flux method, but is more reliable as it includes retardation of the flow by the turbines. The presented method can be used for the initial assessment of channels to determine if the additional measurements required to use the existing method are warranted. It can also be used where the headloss in the channel is too small to measure reliably. The presented equations enable the maximum power available to be simply traded off against environmentally acceptable flow speed reduction. The presented method is applied to two example channels. Cook Strait NZ has an estimated potential of 15 GW, while the entrance channel to Kaipara Harbour has a potential between 110 MW and 240 MW.