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Western Hydropower Goes Down Hill

According to recent EIA reports, during the 2022-2023 water year, which runs October 1 through September 30, western hydroelectric power declined 11% year-over-year. In fact, the 2022-2023 water year generated the least amount of hydropower since 2001. This decline was due, in part, to mountain snowpack and snow melt rates. The 11 western states in the contiguous United States produce a dipropionate amount of all hydropower. A staggering 37% of domestic hydroelectric capacity is located in just two states: Oregon and Washington.

The large decline in hydropower is notable because states in the West, such as California, Oregon, and Washington all have enacted statutory requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These reductions are predicated on the ability to generate more electricity from carbon-friendly sources, like hydropower. If hydroelectric generation plateaus or declines, states will need to secure sufficient grid electricity from other sources to meet consumer demand. Of course, this dynamic can have impacts on electricity’s carbon intensity, as well as retail electric rates. To find out more about how electricity is generated in your state, visit the Fight Electrification section on NPGA’s website. For more information, contact NPGA’s Director of State Affairs, Jacob Peterson.