What is it?
Hydropower is electricity generated using the energy of moving water. It is a form of renewable energy that uses the water stored behind dams and flowing in rivers to create electricity in hydropower plants. Hydropower is a clean, renewable and reliable energy source. Hydropower is the most efficient form of power production to meet peak demands, keeping our homes warm and our industries operating during even the most extreme weather conditions.
There are four hydroelectric dams on the Lower Columbia River: McNary, John Day, The Dalles and Bonneville. There are four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River: Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite. The four Snake River dams alone provide enough clean energy to power 1.87 million homes.
Because of the hydropower from the Columbia and Snake river dams, Pacific Northwest residents enjoy lower power bills compared to other regions of the U.S. These two rivers generate more than 50% of our region's energy. Below is a chart showcasing the supply of power in the Pacific Northwest, compiled by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
According to the Bonneville Power Administration, in recent years the region’s ratepayers and federal taxpayers have also made huge long-term investments in large-scale structural and operational changes to further improve existing fish passage routes as well as provide new, safe passage structures at these dams.
These improvements, which have focused primarily on providing safe and effective juvenile fish passage via surface spill routes, conventional spill and screened bypass, were developed in consultation with regional salmon experts representing states, tribes and federal agencies. These improvements are expected to help meet specific fish survival performance standards.
The dams are now on track to achieve standards of 96 percent average dam survival for young spring chinook and steelhead migrating downstream, and 93 percent for young summer migrating fish. Adult salmon coming back up the river on the way to their spawning grounds pass the dams via fish ladders.
Below is a fish ladder at Bonneville Dam.