Transportation is the Hydro Northwest's biggest energy consumer. Nationally, the industrial sector is the largest consumer.
Though Idaho imports electricity, the region as a whole generates more than it consumes. The surplus electricity is transmitted along the Western Interconnection power grid.
Idaho, Oregon and Washington combine to produce slightly more than half of the nation’s total hydroelectric power. Hydropower represents about 6% of the nation's total electricity generation.
The Hydro Northwest is the largest hydroelectric power-producing region in the United States. Together, Idaho, Oregon and Washington produce more than half of the nation’s total hydroelectric production. Washington generates a staggering 76% of its net electricity from hydropower, with Oregon not far behind at 72% and Idaho at 56%.
These high percentages represent a significant deviation from the national average, as hydropower provided a modest 6% of total U.S. electricity in 2014. This disparity largely reflects geographic conditions: large hydropower dams require fast-flowing water to power the turbines and high river banks to contain the upstream impoundment. The Columbia River meets both criteria throughout its basin, making it ideally suited for hydroelectric development.
A substantial portion of Oregon’s and Washington’s hydro- and wind-generated power is transmitted through the Western Interconnection power grid to California to meet the Golden State’s renewable energy needs.
The Columbia River is one of the most hydroelectrically developed river systems in the world, with more than 470 dams on the main stem and tributaries.
The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydropower producer in the United States. Each year, it generates more than 21 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity—enough to supply 2.3 million households with electricity.
Idaho Power's Hells Canyon complex is the largest privately owned hydroelectric power complex in the nation.
The Bonneville, John Day, Dalles and McNary dams on the Columbia are Oregon's four largest electricity generation facilities.