Hydropower is a climate-friendly energy source, generating power without producing air pollution or toxic by-products. Using hydropower avoids approximately 200 million metric tons of carbon pollution in the U.S. each year – equal to the output of over 38 million passenger cars. Communities that rely on hydropower as a primary energy source reap the benefits of cleaner air and water. Satellite imagery shows that the Pacific Northwest, home to the most hydropower in the United States, is an island of low carbon emissions.
Hydropower is also the nation’s leading source of renewable energy and with new technologies such as marine and hydrokinetics, will continue to provide vast amounts of sustainable energy throughout the country. Learn more about how new technologies are expanding hydropower’s reach.
The hydropower industry is committed to better understanding and mitigating the impacts dams can have on local ecosystems and fish, with hundreds of millions of dollars invested each year in environmental enhancements at hydro facilities. Dams around the country have installed fish passage devices to move fish freely around dams and between sections of rivers – structures such as fish ladders or fish elevators. This is just one of a number of techniques used to mitigate the footprint on the ecosystem. Learn more about how new technologies help protect fish. Through investments in research and mitigation projects, the hydropower industry also takes steps to address possible changes to water quality, local habitats or river flows.
Project owners and operators are part of a rigorous regulatory and permitting structure that ensures hydropower facilities are protecting natural resources. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues licenses for new non-federal hydropower facilities, and for the continuing operation at existing projects, and monitors dam safety and environmental performance. Other federal and state agencies are also involved, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies administering the Clean Water Act. Learn more about the hydropower permitting process.
“For almost a century, hydropower has provided…low-cost, renewable and emissions-free electricity. In today’s environment – where talk centers on the need to provide clean and environmentally friendly energy – we must continue to promote and expand the use of hydropower. ”
– Former Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA)