Ever wonder where your electricity comes from? Look no farther than this nifty map of Northwest electric power generation, from the website of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the regional coordinating body for the electricity sector.
The map covers essentially all of the major dams, power plants, and wind farms that feed power to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho—even if those facilities are actually located in Montana, Wyoming, and beyond. So when you turn on your lights in the Northwest, you can be pretty sure that your power came from some combination of the dots on this map.
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Most interesting to me, the map lets you look at generators by type—hydro, natural gas, wind, coal, biomass and nukes. And when I play around with the map, two things stand out.
First, there are an awful lot of hydropower dams around these parts! They’re all the blue dots in the map above. (For more on this point, see our maps of dam development in the 1930s, 1960s, and late 1990s in the region.)
And second—despite all that hydropower, there’s still a lot of fossil fuel energy in the system as well—particularly from the distant coal plants that supply some of our winter power. So while wind farms are certainly spreading nicely, we’ve still got quite a job to do to wean ourselves from the most polluting, climate-unfriendly power sources.