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National Hydropower Day recognizes America’s first renewable energy source

August 23, 2019

Columbus, Neb.  -- For over 135 years, hydropower has powered the nation with clean, renewable energy. In recognition of America’s first renewable energy, Nebraska Public Power District is observing National Hydropower Day this Friday, Aug. 23.

National Hydropower Day recognizes hydropower’s contributions to America’s clean energy infrastructure, electrical grid resiliency and reliability benefits, and environmental protections. As the renewable resource that integrates the other renewables, like wind and solar, onto the grid, hydropower plays a critical role in America’s future.

Hydropower has played a role in electrical generation, recreation and irrigation for Nebraskans. NPPD has operated the 24 megawatt North Platte Hydroelectric Plant since 1935, which is fed by a series of canals and reservoirs known as the Sutherland Project. NPPD also operates the Kearney Hydro, a one megawatt unit, that began operation in 1921. NPPD also purchases hydroelectric output from the Kingsley Hydro, operated by Central Nebraska Power and Irrigation District, and two facilities operated by the Loup Public Power District – the Columbus Hydro and the Monroe Hydro – amounting to a total of 110 megawatts of power for Nebraskan’s.

Water used in generating electricity at the North Platte Hydro serves three distinct areas- electric generation, water for recreational purposes, and for irrigation customers.  In 2018, the North Platte Hydro generated over 86,000  megawatt hours of electricity that was nearly 6% of the District’s energy supply.

“Given that our hydropower units have been powering Nebraska for so long, the value they provide can sometimes go unnoticed,” said NPPD’s Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent. “As a hydropower generator, we are proud to power our communities’ homes, schools and businesses with clean, renewable energy.”

Nationwide, in 2018, hydropower was the largest generator of clean, renewable electricity, representing 7% of total U.S. electricity generation and 39.5% of renewable electricity generation. The U.S. hydropower fleet is comprised of approximately 2,200 power plants with a total capacity of roughly 102 GW, which includes 95% of U.S. storage capacity (23 GW) of pumped storage. Hydropower is also a major job creator, employing 66,500 workers.