The equipment that makes electricity is often very complex, but the theory behind electricity is simple. Electricity is generated by spinning a magnet inside a coil of wire. This device is called a generator. It’s connected to a power source, which turns a shaft that’s connected to the generator. The power source can be one of many types of prime movers including hydro turbines, wind turbines, steam or natural gas turbines.
Idaho Power is one of the few investor-owned electric utilities that relies on hydropower as its primary energy source. Our reliable, clean hydropower helps keep your rates low. We own and operate 17 hydroelectric plants on the Snake River and its tributaries. The plants vary in size and production capacity. The largest plants, and the ones that generate the most electricity, are located in Hells Canyon, along the border of Idaho and Oregon. There are three hydroelectric plants in Hells Canyon—Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon. Together they are called the “Hells Canyon Complex.”
Idaho Power’s hydroelectric system uses water pressure to spin turbine blades. The turbines look much like large ship propellers. Falling water has tremendous power and our hydroelectric resources provide the most inexpensive method of generating electricity.
We deliver power to our customers through two coal-fired plants in which we are a partial owner, as well as a diesel-powered generator in Salmon, Idaho.
Idaho Power owns and operates three natural gas-fired plants. These plants burn natural gas, and the hot gas produced is directed at turbine blades. The plant works something like a turbo-prop aircraft engine, except that the turbine turns the generator rather than a propeller.
Our newest natural gas-fired plant, the Langley Gulch Power Plant, is a combined-cycle combustion turbine that uses both natural gas and steam to create energy. The addition of this dispatchable resource is a key component in our generation portfolio that balances reliability, costs and environmental impacts. This highly efficient plant improves electric service reliability and helps us integrate intermittent alternative resources into the electrical grid serving all Idaho Power customers.
Renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal are important parts of Idaho Power’s resource portfolio. We expect to buy more energy from these clean sources as we pursue our goal of 100% clean energy by 2045.