Hydropower operators make use of the ability to store
water and regulate river flow to ensure that this clean
energy source is available when the public needs
electricity. By releasing or retaining water at certain
times of the year, hydropower operators can ensure water is
available to meet peak energy demand when it is needed most.
Some dams even have the ability to help regulate water by
the hour or minute to help meet sharp but temporary spikes
in electric demand. This ability to meet temporary peak
loads in electric demand can prevent the need for utilities
to keep fossil fuel generation on stand-by to serve this
highly variable electric load. In this way, use of
hydropower generation helps avoid the release of nitrogen
oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and carbon dioxide emissions
from fossil fuel generation.
Currently, state and national level discussions are
ongoing about how to manage and mitigate for greenhouse gas
emissions from many sectors of the economy - including the
utility sector. As legislative proposals are developed, the
Northwest Hydroelectric Association urges policy makers to
recognize the important role that hydropower plays as a
clean, non-emitting energy source.