Why Hydropower
Makes Perfect Cents

The verdict is in: Inflation is causing unbearable financial pain for hard-working Americans—and there seems to be little relief in sight, particularly regarding soaring energy costs.

In 2022, more than one-third (33.9%) of U.S. households reported cutting back or skipping payments for basic expenses, such as medicine or food, to afford their energy bills, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey. One in five participants (20.8%) said they kept their households at home temperatures that felt unsafe or unhealthy. And 23.1% were unable to pay at least part of an energy bill in the last year.

In Washington state, the Department of Commerce estimates that 25% of Washingtonians are energy burdened (spending 6% or more of their gross incomes on energy), even with the Pacific Northwest's low energy prices.

Across the U.S., electricity prices have soared in recent years, spiking 14.3% in 2022, and they're still rising.

Not Just Costs—Energy Demand Is Soaring, Too

As America trends toward a future of "electrifying" its economy—phasing out gasoline vehicles and natural gas heating in homes and businesses—we're facing an era of unprecedented electricity demand. The Energy Transitions Commission estimates that electricity could represent up to 70% of final energy demand by 2050.

Basic economic principles tell us that as demand exceeds supply, prices rise. The same concept applies to energy supply.

These new electrification demands could also lead to higher demand peaks, requiring flexible and scalable options to help electricity systems adjust quickly to shifts in demand and to compensate for fluctuations in supply from intermittent sources such as solar and wind. (Hint: That's hydropower's greatest strength.)

When it comes to low-cost, scalable, flexible, renewable energy in the Pacific Northwest, nothing beats hydropower. It's why states such as Washington, Idaho and Oregon have lower energy bills than the rest of the U.S.

Best Energy Rates in America

In our transition away from coal and natural gas generation, hydropower will become an even more important part of the renewable energy portfolio. Not only is it unmatched in terms of reliability, flexibility and storage, but hydropower consumers enjoy the lowest electricity rates.

In fact, hydropower is the reason Modern Electric Water Company has some of the lowest residential energy rates in the nation—an astonishingly low 5-7 cents per kilowatt hour. Compare that to a state like California, which averages 26.71 cents per kilowatt hour. Even California imports hydroelectricity from the Pacific Northwest to meet its increasing energy demand.

If more than one-third of Americans are having trouble paying utility bills, why wouldn't we turn to one of our most affordable sources of renewable energy to ease their economic pain?

Hydropower plays a critical role in both our fight against climate change and our efforts to deliver the lowest-cost energy possible to Washingtonians struggling to pay increasing electricity costs.