April 6, 2011

Dam it! Is anyone talking about hydroelectric power?

One source of clean (and renewable) energy was missing in a recent feature article, "Is there Any Safe Energy?," in NEWSWEEK. Are our mega-dams outta sight these days? I realize that most of our major rivers are already dammed and producing megawatts of electricity, but is anyone talking about building more hydroekectric power? It's out there! Just not free for the taking.

It seems that hydropower CAN be added to many of the Interior Department's flood-control dams. On March 31, the U.S. Department of the Interior released the results of an internal study that shows it could generate up to one million megawatt hours of electricity annually (that's a lot) and create an estimated 1200 jobs by adding hydropower capacity at 70 of its existing dams, canals, tunnels, and other water-handling facilities. That's enough clean, renewable energy to annually power more than 85,000 households. Doing so would move us toward Obama's goal of meeting 8o percent of U.S. energy needs with clean sources by 2035.

These 70 facilities identified in this report are located in 14 states. Colorado, Utah, Montana, Texas, and Arizona have the facilities with the most hydropower potential, but facilities with hydropower potential were also found in California, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming.