Northwest RiverPartners advocates for the bettering of our communities, our region, and the world through the low-cost, carbon-free hydropower system. Together, we encourage the balanced use of Columbia Basin rivers, while working towards solutions that help hydropower and salmon coexist and thrive.

Northwest Hydropower By the Numbers

Frequently Asked Questions about Hydro

Are fewer salmon returning to dammed rivers compared to free-flowing rivers?
Answer: Nearly all rivers along the entire North Pacific Coast—from southeast Alaska to southern Oregon—are experiencing similar or worse trends in returns when compared to the lower Columbia and lower Snake rivers.

Do hydroelectric dams lead to significant mortality for salmon?
Answer: Data shows that fish survival past modernized dams can be as good or better than naturally flowing rivers.

Did the lower Snake River dams cause Snake River Chinook and sockeye to become threatened?
Answer: During the same timeframe, ocean conditions dramatically shifted from cooler-than-normal temperatures to warmer-than-normal temperatures. This type of shift is a leading indicator of reduced adult salmon returns.

Is hydropower an important part of our clean energy future?
Answer: Hydropower is critical to the region’s ability to meet these goals because it is carbon-free and because of its energy storage capabilities.

Can batteries become a substitute for hydropower in the Northwest?
Answer: We will likely need all our existing hydropower, plus new sources of energy paired with batteries, to keep up with regional electricity needs.

Are Southern Resident orcas being harmed by the existence of the lower Snake River dams?
Answer: Southern Resident orcas spend most of their time in the Salish Sea. As a result, a NOAA Fisheries’ analysis showed that Chinook from the Salish Sea—not the Columbia or Snake rivers—are the top priority salmon stock for Southern Resident orcas.


Northwest RiverPartners in the News

Latest Story | My View: Fight climate crisis with range of renewables
“The challenge for grid operators is that if there is too little or too much power on the grid at any one time, blackouts can occur. The grid must be in near-perfect balance every second. To keep this balance, a controllable source of electricity is needed to fill in the gaps.”

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Accelerating the Conversation

Kurt Miller, executive director of Northwest RiverPartners, leads the 2019 Northwest Power Pool Resource Adequacy Symposium panel on meeting clean energy goals while facing energy demand challenges in the future.

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Learn More About the Northwest Hydropower System

We’re constantly updating our data and resources with the most recently available science. Our resources page provides links to fact sheets, files, and websites that offer great information on the Northwest hydropower system and salmon.


When it comes to reducing our reliance on carbon-emitting energy sources, the Northwest is leading the nation with the use of hydropower.

Hydropower acts like a giant, clean battery, helping us provide power to millions of homes.

Northwest farmers feed the region and the world with vital crops such as apples,
potatoes, corn, peas, alfalfa, hay, grapes, and wheat. They rely on the river for irrigation and transport of these goods.

The Northwest economy was built on and continues to thrive with abundant, low-cost hydropower.

Northwest dams and reservoirs help protect the region’s families and businesses from devastating floods, saving lives and property.

Hydropower accounts for 47% of the total average annual electricity production and 80% of the carbon-free annual electricity production in the Northwest.

New fish protections have been put into place at all eight lower Columbia and lower Snake River dams, increasing juvenile survival rates to between 93% and 99% at each dam.