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How hydropower makes Idaho’s electricity rates below the national average

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - There's a lot of reasons people consider themselves lucky to live in Idaho, and here's one more—lower electricity rates than the national average, thanks to harnessing our state's natural resources. 

A recent report from says renewable energy sources accounted for 68% of the total electricity generated in Idaho.

“[Idaho is] the fifth highest share of renewable electricity for any state after only Vermont, South Dakota, Washington, and Maine,” Growth Marketing VP for ElectrictyRates Adam Cain said.

Idaho has had low rates since 1900 because the state generates electricity through one of its own natural resources—water.  There are five generators along the Snake River. I got to take a tour of one of these plants to see how Idaho harnesses hydropower.

Wid Ritchie, Energy Services Manager for Idaho Falls Power, said the process starts with the flowing river.

"So the waterfalls you see just north of Broadway Bridge is the diversion wall that's bringing this water in through our generating facility here at the city plant. The water is going down in through the turbine,” he said.

The water flows into the turbine to turn it--generating electricity. Ritchie brought me down to see the shell of the turbine.

"If you were to pull [the turbine's shell] cover off right here, you would see the rudder blades, which are like the blades on a wind turbine, only inside here, encased with water flowing fast."

Once the water flows out of the plant, it will go back into the river and continue its journey in the water cycle.

"It's going to head down to the pacific ocean, turn to vapor again in the clouds and come back as you see, as rain and snow, and we'll use it all over again."

By utilizing our natural resources, we are able to save money on our electricity bills.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls

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Noah Farley

Noah is a reporter for Local News 8.


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