PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Hydropower generated in the Columbia River Basin provides about 55% of the energy needed to keep up with the demand for electricity in the Northwest.
More than half of the hydropower generated in the region is made by federal dams and marketed by Bonneville Power Administration. The electricity from federal dams accounts for roughly 30% of the region’s energy. It is one of the resources the region relies on as it moves toward a carbon-free energy future.
“Federal hydropower is the region’s original source of renewable electricity,” said John Hairston, BPA administrator. “With climate change bearing down on us, it’s comforting to know we have this great base of low-cost, carbon-free power. It is one of the keys to unlocking our clean energy future.”
Each year, the National Hydropower Association sets aside a day in August to recognize as National Hydropower Day. Here in the Northwest, BPA provides this clean, green and constant source of electricity generation to utilities across our region. To learn more about National Hydropower Day, visit www.hydro.org.
Hydropower from the federal system is reliable, having the ability to generate electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s a constant resource that can provide electricity even when the wind is still and the day turns to night.
“Hydropower can be shaped into periods of high energy demand,” said Suzanne Cooper, BPA Power Services senior vice president. “We are able to keep the lights on during devastating winter storms and record high temperatures – both of which we experienced just this year – because of the energy produced by the federal hydropower dams.”
Hydropower is also inexpensive to make, a benefit passed on to utility customers. Federal law dictates that public power entities in the Northwest have preference to the electricity generated at the dams. Anyone served by a public or people’s utility district, municipal electric utility or rural electric cooperative in the Northwest enjoys the benefits of this low-cost, renewable resource.
“We have partnered for decades with our public power customers to deliver clean, reliable, low-cost electricity to businesses and residents across the region,” said Cooper.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation own and operate the 31 dams that make up the Federal Columbia River Power System.
“Our federal partners at the Corps and Reclamation do great work at the dams,” said Hairston. “They are a driving force behind the carbon-free electricity generated at these facilities.”
More information about the dams, which were constructed between 1909 and 1977, can be found at BPA Facts.
Humankind has harnessed the power of water for centuries. The Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat more than 2,000 years ago. In the 1700s, water helped power the Industrial Revolution. And in 1882, the world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant began serving customers in Appleton, Wisconsin.
The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit federal power marketer that sells wholesale, carbon-free hydropower from 31 federal dams in the Columbia River Basin. It also markets the output of the region’s only nuclear plant. BPA delivers this power to more than 140 Northwest electric utilities, serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA also owns and operates more than 15,000 circuit miles of high-voltage power lines and 261 substations, and provides transmission service to more than 300 customers. In all, BPA provides nearly a third of the power generated in the Northwest. To mitigate the impacts of the federal dams, BPA implements a fish and wildlife program that includes working with its partners to make the federal dams safer for fish passage. It also pursues cost-effective energy savings and operational solutions that help maintain safe, affordable, reliable electric power for the Northwest. www.bpa.gov