Idaho Power’s commitment to green energy started with hydroelectric power, and we’ve relied on this clean energy resource since the company was founded in 1916.
The backbone of our hydroelectric system is the Hells Canyon Complex (HCC) in the Hells Canyon reach of the Snake River, along the border of Idaho and Oregon.
The HCC consists of Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon dams and their associated generation facilities. In a normal water year, the three plants provide approximately 70% of Idaho Power’s annual hydroelectric generation and approximately 30% of the total energy generated.
Hydroelectric power plants use water pressure to spin the turbine blades, which look like a large ship propeller. These plants are Idaho Power’s most inexpensive method of generating electricity.
The availability of hydroelectric power depends on several factors, like snowpack levels in the mountains, reservoir storage, water leases, water rights and other weather and stream flow considerations.
Today we operate 17 hydroelectric projects located on the Snake River and its tributaries. Together, these projects make up Idaho Power’s largest source of generation.
Idaho Power uses cloud seeding to increase mountain snowpack, and, in turn, the amount of power we can generate through our hydroelectric power plants.
Most of our dams require a federal license. Learn more about relicensing.