(Grass Valley, Aug. 24, 2021) On Aug. 24, the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) will celebrate National Hydropower Day, in recognition of hydropower’s contributions to America’s clean energy infrastructure. As the resource that integrates other renewables, like wind and solar, onto the grid, hydropower plays a critical role in advancing America’s energy future.
For more than 50 years, NID has generated hydropower energy. As water flows to customers from high in the Sierra Nevada, it also feeds power plants located along the way. Today, the District generates enough electricity to supply the equivalent of 60,000 to 80,000 homes.
“Given that our hydropower projects have been generating electricity for more than 50 years, we are proud to bring attention to the importance of this clean energy, and pleased to celebrate National Hydropower Day,” said Keane Sommers, NID’s Hydroelectric Manager. “The value they provide can sometimes go unnoticed. Hydropower is the backbone of our electricity system, and crucial as dependable power for our communities.”
The District began producing power in 1966 with the completion of the $65 million Yuba-Bear Power Project. The project included the Chicago Park and Dutch Flat #2 powerhouses. The Rollins powerhouse was added in 1980. To make use of existing water releases, small power plants were added during the 1980s at Bowman, Scotts Flat and Combie reservoirs.
NID has a generation capacity of 82.2 megawatts, producing an average 375 million kilowatt hours of energy each year. The District sells its electrical output to the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. These hydroelectricity revenues are very important in the maintenance and operation of NID’s extensive water distribution system.
The National Hydropower Association (NHA) is sponsoring National Hydropower Day on Aug. 24. Nationwide, in 2019, hydropower represented nearly 6.6 percent of total U.S. electricity generation and 38 percent of renewable electricity generation.
In California, hydropower totaled nearly 21,414 gigawatt-hours (GWh) or 11.22 percent of the state’s generation portfolio. There’s a total of 274 hydroelectric facilities with an installed capacity of 14,042 megawatts (MW), according to the California Energy Commission.
The amount of hydroelectricity produced varies each year and is largely dependent on snowmelt runoff and rainfall.
The NHA notes given that hydropower pairs perfectly with other renewables, such as wind and solar, states throughout the United States are recognizing that hydropower is needed to help them meet their clean energy targets. Hydropower enables greater integration of variable renewables into the grid by utilizing excess generation, and being ready to produce power during low wind and solar generation periods. Hydropower also has the ability to quickly ramp up electricity generation in response to periods of peak demand.
NID Generation Capacity in megawatts
Chicago Park - 39.00 MW
Dutch Flat #2 - 24.57 MW
Rollins - 12.15 MW
Bowman - 3.60 MW
Combie South - 1.50 MW
Scotts Flat - 0.875 MW
Combie North - 0.50 MW