Renewable Energy

A windsurfer on the Columbia River

Reservoirs: The Region’s Storage Battery

Just like animals in times of abundance gather and store food for the leaner months, hydropower operators store water during wet months in preparation for drier conditions. Though squirrels may opt for underground storage, hydropower operators store water behind hydroelectric dams in large pools called reservoirs. Not all dams have reservoirs. But the hydropower system…

A woman reaches down to scoop fresh mountain water with her hands

Water Cycle: The Power Behind Hydropower

Hydropower is the most abundant energy source in the Northwest. It’s also reliable and renewable, thanks to the benefits and predictability of our planet’s water cycle. The water cycle, also called the hydrological cycle, is the path water takes as it changes from solid to liquid to gas and back again, recycling it over and…

75.96% Hydropower, 14.58% Unspecified, 9.45% Nuclear, 0.01% Natural Gas

2018 Benton REA Fuel Mix Report

How your electricity is generated, as reported in the Washington State Department of Commerce 2018 Electric Utility Fuel Mix Disclosure Report In 2018, Benton REA members received their electricity from the following generation sources: 75.96% Hydropower, 14.58% Unspecified, 9.45% Nuclear and 0.01% Natural Gas. This is the most recent data available for Benton REA’s fuel…

A man and woman hike along the Columbia Gorge in Washington

Clean Energy: The Northwest Way of Life

Life in the Northwest is shaped by the Columbia River and all it has to offer. From clean energy to clean air, this iconic waterway is forever giving. It Fuels the Cleanest Power System in the Nation Dams in the Columbia River Basin produce more electricity than any other North American river. They provide nearly…

Resource Adequacy (n.) The amount of power supply needed to meet energy needs across a wide range of weather and power system conditions.

Resource Adequacy: Meeting the Region’s Energy Needs

Across the Northwest, states are committing to carbon-free power and setting landmark clean energy goals. Washington, Idaho and California have pledged 100% clean energy by 2045, and Oregon has committed to zero use of coal by 2040. To meet these goals, utilities are retiring coal plants. By 2030—just 10 years from now—a total of 18,000…

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Power Generation: From Water to Watt

People have been harnessing the power of water for centuries. The Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat more than 2,000 years ago. In the 1700s, water helped power the Industrial Revolution. In 1882, the world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant began serving customers in Appleton, Wisconsin. Today, hydroelectric projects in the Columbia River Basin…

Snake River sockeye. Photo courtesy of the Bonneville Power Administration

Lower Snake River Dams in Jeopardy; Make Your Voice Heard!

The region’s clean and equitable energy future hangs in the balance of a federal process that will conclude this year, and you can influence the outcome. A court-ordered analysis will help determine the future of the four lower Snake River dams. It is the first time in nearly 20 years that the federal government has…

tight rope walker's feet on a wire

Reliable Energy: Balancing supply and demand

Just as a tightrope walker must maintain balance to guarantee a successful highwire crossing, power grid operators must maintain a delicate balance, accurately matching supply with demand and carefully preparing for their next move. Hydropower’s many positive attributes, coupled with careful planning and precise management, make this power source one of the most reliable. It’s…

Benton REA community solar panels

One Year of Community Solar

Benton REA’s community solar project went live January 2, 2019. In one year, Co-op Solar produced 41,000 kilowatt hours of electricity—enough to power two efficient, modern, all-electric, 2,000-square-foot homes for one year. Thirty-one Benton REA members invested in the project and are reaping the benefits of renewable, carbon-free energy produced in West Richland. “We thought…

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Snowpack: From Powder to Power

When you think of electricity generated from hydroelectric dams, you might first picture rushing rivers that spin giant turbines. But the story actually begins on snowcapped mountains. Hydropower is the conversion of flowing water into electricity. Hydropoweris a renewable energy source, meaning its fuel is replenished by nature—in this case, by the water cycle. The…