Hydropower is a source of renewable energy which is usually used to provide electricity for use by humans. It has several advantages over other sources such as having minimal pollution since fuel is not burned, low maintenance costs and the technology used is reliable and has been proven over time. The US is the 4th largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world after China, Canada, and Brazil. States that produce large amounts of hydro energy in the country are Washington, California, New York, Oregon, and Alabama. In 2018, the US hydroelectricity generation capacity was 80 million kilowatts.
The Four Biggest Hydroelectricity Producing US States
Washington is the leading state in the production of hydropower energy in the US. Its total national production is 37% of the country’s total production. One of the advantages that Washington State has is that it is home to the Grand Coulee Dam. This dam is the largest primary producer of hydroelectric power in the US and is situated on the Columbia River. On its own, Grand Coulee produces electricity consumed by 2.3 million households every year. The 2nd largest dam in the state is Chief Joseph Dam.
California State produces 13% of the United States’ hydropower. In 2018, the state consumed 26,344 GWh (gigawatt hours) of hydroelectricity. California has 270 hydroelectric facilities with installed capacities of 14,009 megawatts (MW). The production of hydropower through the dams depends upon snowmelt runoffs and rainfall. Examples of hydroelectricity-producing dams in California are EdwardHyatt power plant on Oroville Dam, Beardsley Dam, Canyon Dam, Don Pedro Dam, Isabella Dam, San Luis Dam, and Trinity Dam.
Oregon State produces 11% of the United States’ hydropower. As a state, the facilities that utilize the power include electric cooperatives, public utility districts, and municipal utilities. In 2018, Oregon’s hydropower capacity was 8,865 MW. The state has 88 hydropower facilities with the largest one producing 2,160 MW. Examples of dams that produce hydroelectricity in Oregon are Big Cliff Dam, Cougar Dam, Detroit Dam, Foster Dam, Klamath River Hydroelectric Project, and Owyhee Dam.
New York produces 6% of the total hydroelectricity in the US. It is popularly known for possessing the largest hydroelectricity generation capacity of all states located east of the Mississippi River. New York has more than 300 hydroelectric generating stations with the largest being Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. This plant draws its water from the Niagara River. It has 13 turbines and is capable of producing electricity that lights 24 million 100-watt bulbs. Other dams in the state include Moses-Saunders Power Dam, Spier Falls Dam, Warrensburg Hydroelectric Dam, and Blenheim-Gilboa Hydroelectric Power Station.
The Future of Hydroelectric Power in the United States
The production of hydropower in the US is currently facing stiff competition from other renewable sources of energy such as wind energy, nuclear energy, solar energy, coal energy, natural gas energy, and geothermal energy. Besides, climate change has resulted in a shift from the primary source of energy which is hydropower to other renewable sources. Since hydropower depends on water from natural rivers, drought results to great challenges as the levels of water become too low. Going into the future, it seems like most of the energy in the US is from fossil-fuels and nuclear power plants. However concerns have been raised regarding the immense pollution caused by burning fossil fuels.