NW Hydro: Valuable Electricity and More
Northwest rivers have carved landscapes and nourished wildlife. They have supported commerce and inspired culture. Since the 1930s, our rivers have also formed the Columbia River Basin hydroelectric system, providing affordable, clean and sustainable energy for at least 60 percent of the Northwest’s needs.
In the U.S., electricity is a fundamental necessity. Over the last several decades, science, industry, utilities, government agencies and consumers have teamed up to develop cleaner generating alternatives and identify practical ways to get the most from what we have.
Proudly,Northwest residents enjoy a bounty of carbon free generation and they are known for using it efficiently.
The biggest player in the region’s electricity supply is hydropower. It has remained an affordable, clean and reliable resource for 70 years. During a year where water levels in the rivers are average, the region depends on hydropower for well over half of our electricity generation. In years with a higher water flow due to generous rainfall and snowpack, hydro generation percentages rise too.
Hydro is a very efficient form of energy generation, converting 90 percent of its energy to electricity with zero carbon emissions. It is flexible and responsive, available almost instantaneously to meet ups and downs in demand and weather conditions. With our abundant hydropower resource the Northwest benefits from some of the lowest electricity rates in the country.
Even in low-water years, the rivers keep flowing and supporting our region in varied and valuable ways. From flood control, to recreation, commerce and agriculture, the Northwest’s hydro system provides more than electricity. It is vital to a renewable, clean energy future for our region.