There’s something special about working for a hydro-based utility. Walking around the Water Power XVI conference in Spokane this week, talking to people and listening to presentations – I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this belief. Most of you already know that Avista Utilities used to be Washington Water Power. The named was derived from the company’s commitment to hydro power. The name might have changed, but our commitment hasn’t.
As more and more demand is added to our system, a different variation of energy is being used to generate the power. It’s not just hydro anymore; its biomass, wind, natural gas and coal. But hydro, at least in the United States, is one of those stand-by electric generation options that has been available for more than a century and will continue to be. It’s pretty unlikely that hydro generation is drying up anytime soon. The industry refers to it as, “base load,” meaning it’s there when you need it. The exciting thing this week is to see the people attending the conference who are working on further innovations to get the most out their facilities, while also protecting fish and wildlife, and providing recreation opportunities on waterways.
Hydro power is clean and renewable. When we’re talking about cap and trade legislation to limit carbon emissions, one of the obvious resources is hydro power. During the opening session of the conference yesterday, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(FERC), Commissioner Philip D. Moeller
told the assembled crowd, “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” That hydro needs to be viewed as a major part of climate change legislation and needs to take the lead. It’s been around for a long time and it doesn’t emit carbon and too often it’s taken for granted.
Commissioner Moeller is right, hydro power is key to clean electric generation. Avista customers know it and have been enjoying clean energy from it for 120 years. We have long-term licenses to operate our dams on the Spokane and Clark Fork rivers and will continue to innovate in our hydro operations and act as strong environmental stewards.
Any questions about hydro power? Fire away in the comments section.