Benefits of Hydropower

About 85% of the electricity you use comes from hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest. These dams have the capacity to generate 33,000 megawatts of clean, renewable, and affordable energy to the region.

Hydropower Is Renewable

Did you know? Northwest dams can produce enough electricity each year to power 14 Seattle-sized cities.

Each year, rain and snow replenish the supply. It is the nation’s most abundant source of renewable energy.

Hydropower Is Efficient

Hydropower plants at dams convert about 90 percent of the energy in falling water into electrical energy. By comparison, fossil-fueled plants lose more than half of the energy content of their fuel as waste heat and gases.

Hydropower Is Clean

Hydropower produces no emissions. There are no gases or waste products that contribute to air pollution.

Hydropower Is Secure

Water from our rivers is largely a domestic resource that is not subject to disruptions from foreign suppliers, cost fluctuations in power markets, international political crises, or transportation outages.

Hydropower Is Flexible

By adjusting the amount of water flowing through the dams, hydropower can be increased or decreased very quickly to meet changes in demand for power. This meets a fundamental requirement of all electric grids, which is that demand must exactly match supply at all times to keep the system stable.

Hydropower Allows for the Growth of Other Renewable Resources

Hydropower is a great “back-up” for wind and solar power. For example, it can be ramped up to meet demand when the wind is not blowing and dialed down at times of high wind.

Hydropower Is Affordable

This is because the “fuel” – water – is free, which keeps operating costs low and protects against fluctuations in fuel prices. Over the years, the dams have consistently provided some of the nation’s most affordable electricity.

Download this hydropower activity book from BPA.

An illustration of how electricity moves from nature to your home.