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About Hydropower

  • Hydropower

    KEC purchases the majority of the power it sells to members from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) under a long-term power supply contract. BPA, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit federal power marketer that sells wholesale electricity from 31 federal dams and one nuclear plant to 142 Northwest electric utilities serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA delivers power via more than 15,000 circuit miles of lines and 259 substations to 490 transmission customers. In all, BPA markets about a third of the electricity consumed in the Northwest and operates three-quarters of the region’s high-voltage transmission grid. 

    BPA is a self-funded agency under the U.S. Department of Energy. It receives no congressional appropriations and sets its rates to ensure full recovery of its costs, including obligations to repay its debt to the U.S. Treasury. BPA reviews its wholesale power and transmission rates every two years through several public processes. 

    Bonneville  Power Administration

    • Hydroelectricity is the original Northwest renewable resource. Dams store water from melting snow and rainfall in reservoirs, which is then released and passes through turbines to generate electricity. The water (fuel) is reused over and over as it moves downriver through multiple dams.
    • The dams are doing what they are supposed to do, which is to use engineering – and management – to buffer us from climate variability and climate warming,” said Julia Jones, an Oregon State University hydrologist. “The climate change signals that people have expected in stream flow haven’t been evident in the Columbia River basin because of the dams and reservoir management. That may not be the case elsewhere, however.”
    • Hydropower is the most efficient form of electricity generation. It's capable of converting 90 percent of the available energy into electricity. Coal or natural gas plants are about 50 percent efficient. Wind turbines rate approximately 33 percent efficiency.
    • Hydropower produces zero carbon emissions, helping to keep the Northwests energy carbon footprint at half that of other parts of the country.
    • Northwest dams provide nearly 60 percent of the region's electricity under normal rain and snow conditions.
    • Overall, Northwest dams produce an average of about 14,000 megawatts of electricity every year under normal precipitation equivalent to powering over 11 Seattle-sized cities every year.

    Northwest RiverPartners - Learn more about this alliance of farmers, utilities, ports and businesses that promote the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake Rivers and salmon recovery policies based on sound science. Also, be sure to watch the Dam Good Reasons video on their site. It's an informational video about the Federal Dams and regional restoration efforts on fish habitats.

    Learn more about Clean Hydro



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