You Can Help Add Carbon-Free Energy in the Region

When most people think about renewable energy resources, wind and solar power are the two that come to mind. So it may come as a surprise that here in Columbia County, those two resources combine to make up just a little more than 10% of our renewable resource portfolio.

Hydropower is our main source of renewable energy. Dams in the Columbia River Basin create about 85% of the renewable energy that we use.

Hydropower has many benefits. One of the biggest is that it’s a great backup for intermittent resources like wind and solar. Because of hydropower’s flexibility – the ease at which its production can be increased or decreased – it pairs perfectly with wind and solar.

This is a critical quality that helps maintain the reliability of our electric system. For the electric grid to operate properly, the amount of power produced must equal the amount of power being consumed every second of every day.

So, on a windy day hydropower production can be scaled back by restricting the amount of water running through the dams, allowing more wind power to come online. Similarly, on clear, sunny days, reducing the amount of hydroelectric generation allows more solar power onto the grid.

On calm, cloudy days when the sun’s not shining and the wind isn’t blowing, dam operators can increase the amount of water running through the dams to meet demand.

In the Pacific Northwest, we are lucky to have such a robust hydroelectric system. As the nation continues in the effort to move away from carbon-emitting resources, we can rely on hydropower while we build other clean energy infrastructure.

As a Columbia River PUD customer, you have the option to help further develop renewable energy resources – specifically, wind power.

We buy Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) on an annual basis. These are tradable, non-tangible energy commodities in the US. RECs are the currency of the renewable energy market. They are uniquely numbered and tracked.

One REC represents proof that one megawatt hour of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. In this case, that resource is 100% Northwest-generated wind power. One megawatt hour is equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours. For reference, our typical residential customer’s usage averages out to about 1,070 kilowatt hours per month.

By choosing to pay an additional 1.5¢ per kilowatt hour for the electricity you use, you can help fund the purchase of these RECs. Currently, all of the RECs we purchase originate from a wind farm in Eastern Oregon.

Our Wind program helps continue the region’s effort to generate more carbon-free energy and move away from fossil fuel-based electricity.

You can sign up for 100% Wind Power online. Enrolling in this program typically adds about $16 to the average monthly residential electric bill.