The Power of Hydro

For decades, the Pacific Northwest has relied on clean, renewable hydropower for the vast majority of its energy needs. It is a carbon-free, low-cost resource that works to power our homes and businesses. Because hydropower is clean and renewable, the Pacific Northwest has a carbon footprint that is half that of other regions in the county. It also works to keep our electric rates as some of the lowest in the country, as dams produce energy cheaper than nuclear, coal and natural gas-fired plants.

A majority of Northern Lights’ power comes from hydropower, which includes 10 percent from our own Lake Creek Dam in Montana. The Bonneville Power Administration supplies the other 90 percent. Each year, BPA spends millions of dollars to help improve access for salmon, with great success. Every mainstem federal dam in our region now has fish slides or other technologies to help young salmon migrate downstream. Unfortunately, even with these notable improvements, the courts are forcing these dams to spill water in the spring in an unproven effort to help salmon at a cost of $40 million to consumers.

Northern Lights relies on BPA, which markets the power produced at the federal dams. Along with other local utilities relying on BPA, NLI, strives to work together to to have the lowest possible rates while being good stewards of our environment. While we support funding set aside to aid salmon, spilling water at these dams has costly ramifications for electric cooperatives and the environment, and may not be effective.

We hope to continue to rely on renewable clean hydropower for many years to come. Now that spring is almost here, it is a perfect time to get outside to view nature’s beautiful rivers and be glad our region gets its power from such a great renewable source.

Cheers to spring!

Annie Terracciano
General Manager