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Hydropower Facts

Clean, renewable and affordable electricity.

History

Hydropower is, very simply put, energy derived from the flow of water. Utilizing water flow is not new: more than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greeks used water wheels to grind grain. Additionally, the power of the water has been used to saw wood and power textile mills and manufacturing plants.

Why Hydropower?

Hydropower has provided the Pacific Northwest with clean, renewable and affordable electricity since the early 1900s.

  1. Providing a renewable source of energy:
    • Hydropower is a clean, reusable source of electricity. It produces no emissions and its fuel (water) can be used at each downstream dam.
    • Hydropower is domestic. Our supply of water is continually replenished through rain and snowmelt. We are not dependent upon foreign fuel supplies and their possible interruption.
  2. Providing an affordable and efficient source of energy.
  3. In the Northwest, electricity from hydropower typically costs $10 per megawatt hour to produce. This compares to $60, $45 and $25 per megawatt hour to produce electricity, respectively, at nuclear, coal and natural gas plants. To determine these price comparisons, planners calculate what it costs to build, maintain and operate these differing generation facilities.
  4. Hydropower also is more efficient than any other form of electrical generation. It is capable of converting 90 percent of available energy into electricity. The best fossil fuel plant is only about 50 percent efficient.
  5. Hydropower can easily respond to power needs by its ability to be turned on and off quickly. Other forms of electrical production, such as a coal power plant, require a great deal of time to start or stop producing electricity.

Northwest Federal Hydro Projects

Residents of the Northwest are fortunate to have a clean, renewable source of power that significantly contributes to the Northwest quality of life. Today, the Northwest relies on hydropower for about two-thirds of its electricity and 40 percent of all US hydropower comes from the Columbia and Snake rivers.  

Project River - State In Service MW Rating
Albeni Falls Pend Oreille - ID 1955 43
Anderson Ranch Boise - ID 1950 40
Big Cliff Santiam - OR 1953 18
Black Canyon Payette - ID 1925 10
Boise River Diversion Boise - ID 1912 3
Bonneville Columbia - OR/WA 1938 1,077
Chandler Yakima - WA 1956 12
Chief Joseph Columbia - WA 1958 2,458
Cougar McKenzie - OR 1963 25
Detroit Santiam - OR 1953 100
Dexter Willamette - OR 1954 15
Dworshak Clearwater - ID 1973 400
Foster Santiam - OR  1967 20
Grand Coulee Columbia - WA 1942 * 6,809
Green Peter Santiam - OR 1967 80
Green Springs Emigrant Creek - OR 1960 16
Hills Creek Willamette - OR 1962 30
Hungry Horse Flathead - MT 1953 428
Ice Harbor Snake - WA 1962 810
John Day Columbia - OR/WA 1971 2,160
Libby Kootenai - MT 1975 525
Little Goose Snake - WA 1970 810
Lookout Point Willamette - OR 1953 120
Lost Creek Rogue - OR 1977 49
Lower Granite Snake - WA 1975 810
Lower Monumental Snake - WA 1969 810
McNary Columbia - OR/WA 1952 980
Minidoka Snake - ID 1909 28
Palisades Snake - ID 1958 176
Roza Yakima - WA 1958 11
The Dalles Columbia - OR/WA 1957 1,808
       
Total (31 dams)     20,474

 

US Army Corps of Engineers (21 dams)
Bureau of Reclamation (10 dams)
* Includes Pump Generation