Hydro 101

Want to learn about hydropower? Read the article below or our Hydro 101 presentation (made with the help of Northwest RiverPartners)!


What is hydropower?

Hydropower is a way of generating energy. It uses water (usually from a river) and gravity to spin turbines inside of a dam to generate energy. The water passes through the dam and continues on its way down the river, out to the ocean.


Is hydropower actually solar?

The water in our rivers comes from rain and snow. A lot of that rain and snow starts in the ocean. The sun evaporates the water on the surface of the ocean, forming clouds in the sky. Eventually, all of that water vapor turns back into rain and snow. It then runs into our rivers, passes through dams to generate energy, and winds up back out in the ocean to start all over again.


Where do we get our energy from?

In the Northwest, we get over half of our energy from the dams. Here at Franklin PUD, we get over 83% of our power from hydroelectric dams (see our fuel mix information to learn more). It also makes up the majority of our carbon-free energy. Dams also help other energy, like wind and solar, by providing them with balance. Hydropower helps make sure there’s always just the right amount of energy available to us.


What is important about hydropower?

It is important that our energy is affordable and reliable. Hydropower is renewable, carbon-free energy that is affordable and reliable! Energy must be affordable because if energy costs more, it causes the price of everything else to go up too. Hydropower is our lowest-cost, most reliable energy source.


How does hydropower help farmers?

Dams are great at generating electricity, but they’re also very important to our farms. They first help farmers out by allowing them to use the water held back behind the dam for irrigation. Irrigation is very important to getting enough water to grow healthy crops, like the fruits and vegetables we eat every day. Then, when it’s time for the farmer to harvest those crops and sell them to the stores where we can buy them, they need to be transported. The dams turn our river into a giant highway. Barges are a low-carbon, safe way to transport those crops to make sure they get where they need to go.



Have questions about hydropower? Contact Franklin PUD at publicaffairs@franklinpud.com or Northwest RiverPartners at nwriverpartners.org or by calling (360) 839-2525.