Here in Oregon, we’re lucky to be home to powerful waterways like the Columbia River.

The Columbia River Basin, which includes the Columbia itself and its many tributaries, reaches seven U.S. states and part of British Columbia. Of course, we know it best as the great waterway that forms our border with Washington.

Did you know the Columbia River also helps keep our Oregon homes and businesses running with renewable electricity?

Hydroelectric power, or hydropower, is generated by capturing the motion of flowing water. At dams, water flows through a turbine to spin it. The spinning turbine activates a generator, which produces electricity! That electricity is sent out to the grid to power our communities.


Four dams along the Columbia between Oregon and Washington produce hydropower, including the McNary Dam, The Dalles Dam, Bonneville Dam, and the John Day Dam (looking glorious in the video above).

In the entire Columbia River Basin, there are more than 50 total dams!

Most of Oregon’s electricity comes from renewable hydropower. By 2040, half of Oregon’s electricity will come from renewable resources like wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, or hydropower — and by 2035, we will phase out coal-produced electricity in our state.

Learn more about Oregon’s electricity mix:

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