Our Hydropower System’s Many Attributes

The following information is provided by Northwest RiverPartners:

  • Hydropower is the original renewable resource for the Northwest. Dams store water from melting snow and rainfall in reservoirs. The weight of water stored behind the dams creates water pressure. That pressure is put to work when the water pushes past turbines to generate electricity. This flowing water produces energy over and over as it moves downriver through multiple dams.
  • Northwest hydropower produces no carbon emissions, thereby significantly reducing the total carbon footprint of the region’s energy production.
  • The Columbia and Snake River dams have enabled a 465-mile marine highway that allows for environmentally friendly barging of cargo. Barging on the Snake River alone keeps as many as 135,000 semi-trucks and 35,000 rail cars from transporting goods through the Columbia River gorge annually.
  • Hydropower represents approximately 80% of our region’s carbon-free energy. With bold clean energy goals and the move toward electric vehicles, hydropower has become an even more important part of our future.
  • Northwest hydropower acts as a massive, clean battery for wind and solar power. We can store renewable energy (in the form of water) behind the dams when demand is low and then release it when demand is high. In this way, hydropower helps the region add even more renewable power to its resource mix.
  • Hydropower helps to stabilize our region’s power grid by providing voltage support in areas where power wouldn’t otherwise flow. This is especially true of the lower Snake River dams, which support the 500-kilovolt transmission lines that run from western Montana to eastern Washington.