Used in many different ways, for many years, our rivers carry a timeless value. One of the ways rivers nurture us is by providing the energy needed to power our homes and operate our businesses.
Americans face both a growing demand for electricity and an increasing concern about our environment. Hydropower is a viable source of renewable energy that can help meet this challenge.
Hydropower is a clean energy resource; it doesn’t pollute, contribute to acid rain, deplete the ozone layer, or contribute to global warming.
Hydropower is the most efficient producer of electricity, with typical efficiencies of 85-92%. It is clean: hydropower plants produce no carbon dioxide, no sulfur dioxide, no nitrous oxides – no air emissions at all. Hydropower plants also produce no solid or liquid wastes.
Hydropower is economical and low-cost; hydro plants are long-lived and usually less costly to maintain and operate than steam-fired (fossil fuel and nuclear) plants. Avista’s 1999 electrical rates for residential customers averaged only about five cents per kilowatt-hour. (Believe it or not, our rates in 1900 were actually 11 cents per kilowatt-hour!)
Low-cost hydropower has helped the Pacific Northwest attract and retain business and jobs, improving our quality of life.
Hydropower is reliable and immediately available upon demand, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is not like steam-driven plants that require several hours to gear up for production.
Of all renewable electrical energy sources, including geothermal, biomass, wind, and solar, hydropower costs the least and is the most reliable and efficient.
Currently hydropower provides almost 98% of the total renewable generation in the United States. That's a lot when you consider that only about 2400 (3%) of the nation’s 80,000 existing dams are used to generate electricity.
Having clean and renewable energy is not an unreasonable expectation.
Hydropower has many benefits, all of which are achieved naturally. Via the natural hydrologic cycle, water in reservoirs can be stored and used for hydroelectric power production, flood control, irrigation, recreation, transportation, and fish and wildlife habitat.
Hydropower also has some environmental impacts, primarily related to its effects on riverine ecosystems and the fish and wildlife that live there. Over the years, Avista Corp. staff has worked closely with conservation and recreation groups, local and state governments, federal agencies, and tribes to find creative solutions to provide clean, renewable, and low-cost energy while maintaining a balance with plants, fish, wildlife, and the surrounding ecosystem.
Ever since our first hydroelectric project was constructed more than 110 years ago, Avista worked to be a socially-responsible company.