For more than 100 years, hydropower has translated energy from falling water into electricity at an efficiency rate that exceeds 90% on many projects. Hydro also provides more of the services necessary for reliability than any other resource, including operating reserves, frequency regulation and black start capability. It is a premier generating resource.
Hydropower represents 65% of electric generation here in Washington, but this issue is much bigger than the Pacific Northwest. As of last year, the U.S. had more than 100 gigawatts of hydropower capacity, including pumped storage. In its 2016 Hydropower Vision report, the Department of Energy found that this capacity has the potential to grow to nearly 150 GW by 2050. The report states that a combined $209 billion in savings from avoided global damages from greenhouse gas emissions is possible, including $185 billion in savings from continuing to operate the existing hydropower fleet through 2050.