Hydroelectric, Renewables

Hydroelectric Generators are the Oldest Still Operating in the U.S.

By Editors of Power Engineering

A new study by the Energy Information Administration indicates hydropower plants account for 99 percent of all currently operating capacity built before 1930.

The average hydroelectric facility has been operating for 64 years, and the 50 oldest electric generating plants are all hydroelectric and have been in service since 1908.

However, relatively few new hydroelectric facilities are being built. Of the nearly 200 GW of capacity added over the last 10 years, only 1.7 GW were conventional hydro.

Though the deterioration of spillways at Oroville Dam recently caused a flooding scare after heavy rains, that plant’s operation date of 1968 makes it younger than 63 percent of California’s currently-operating hydroelectric facilities.

Half of all hydroelectric capacity is located in Washington, California and Oregon. Those three states plus Vermont generate half their power from hydroelectric sources.

Even with that concentration, only Delaware and Mississippi lack any utility-scale hydroelectric facilities.

Hydroelectricity production surpassed all other renewable sources until 2014.