Did you know that Okanogan County PUD does not generate any of its own power? We buy all the power that we sell to our customers – and it’s nearly half our annual budget.
The Pacific Northwest has a great main source of energy – hydropower. In recent years, our PUD gathered 85-90 percent of its power from hydroelectric dams. That comes from two contracts:
- Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Since 1937, BPA has marketed wholesale electrical power and transmission in the Pacific Northwest. Sources include 30 federal hydro projects on both the Columbia and Snake rivers. Nearly half the power used in the Northwest comes from BPA, and it provided about 57 percent of Okanogan PUD’s power last year.
- Wells Dam (Douglas County PUD). Our neighbors in Douglas County own and operate Wells Dam, just south of our county border toward Chelan. This is the least expensive power we buy, and might be the least expensive power anyone buys anywhere in the nation. We received about 39 percent of our power from Wells last year.
But hydropower isn’t the only carbon-free, renewable electricity source for us. Okanogan PUD is also part of the Nine Canyon Wind farm, operated by Energy Northwest near Kennewick. About 4 percent of our power last year was from Nine Canyon.
When power usage is high and we need more than our contracts allow for, we also buy on the power market. Prices vary dramatically based on supply and demand. The power itself could be from additional hydropower or other renewable sources, or it could be from natural gas or coal. Only a small percentage of our power is from the market, and is, therefore, impossible to track exactly by source.
Overall, Okanogan PUD is at least 96 percent carbon-free, renewable electricity. That’s something we are proud of.