Northwesterners hardly need to be reminded of the value of the regional hydroelectric system, but statistics released earlier this month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration underscore yet again the value of the region's hydro resources. The EIA data show that renewable energy, including hydroelectric power, now accounts for about 12% of total U.S. electric generation. The State of Washington leads, by far, in the production of renewable energy, producing a total of more than 950,000 BTU, fully a third more than the next most productive state, California. Oregon is solidly in third place, producing nearly a half-million BTU.
Using the EIA data, Tim McDonnell of Slate Magazine recently published an excellent interactive map showing renewable energy production by state, with options to show total renewable production as well as production of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power. Keep in mind that the map shows total power production rather than power production on a per capita basis. If renewable power production were shown on a per capita basis, Washington (population less than 7 million) and Oregon (population less than 4 million) would appear as behemoths next to California (population more than 38 million).
Take that, California!