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Hydropower, or hydroelectric power, is one of the oldest and largest sources of renewable energy, that uses the natural flow of moving water to generate electricity. The history of hydropower dates back thousands of years, and the evolution of the modern hydropower turbine began in the mid-1700s. Hydropower currently accounts for 28.7% of total U.S. renewable electricity generation and about 6.2% of total U.S. electricity generation.


Hydropower technologies generate power by using the elevation difference, created by a dam or diversion structure, of water flowing in on one side and out, far below, on the other. There are many types of hydropower facilities, though they are all powered by the energy of flowing water as it moves downstream.

The South Feather Power Project (SFPP) is a run-of-the-river system, utilizing turbines and generators to convert that energy into electricity, which is then fed into the electrical grid to power homes, businesses, and industries. The difference in elevation between Little Grass Valley Reservoir (top of the SFPP) and the afterbay of Kelly Ridge Powerhouse (bottom of the SFPP) is about 4,800 feet.

By the time the water that SFWPA has rights to use for power generation is discharged from Kelly Ridge Powerhouse, it has generated enough clean energy to power the equivalent of about 90,000 homes.

SFWPA’s hydropower facilities include four powerhouses totaling 117.3 Megawatts electrical power output.

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