Also see Power Supply map which shows dams and other power generation projects.
The Northwest Power Act of 1980, which authorized the four Northwest states to form the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and undertake regional electric energy planning, has its roots in federal river-development policies that date to the New Deal of the 1930s and before. In the Columbia River Basin, these policies, which promoted the development of dams on large rivers for multiple purposes – navigation, irrigation, hydropower generation, recreation, and flood control – led to the construction of federal dams on the Columbia and its tributaries.
Today, 31 federal hydropower dams and one non-federal nuclear power plant comprise the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). Since the early 1970s, the FCRPS dams have been operated in coordination with three dams in the upper Columbia River Basin in British Columbia under the authority of the Columbia River Treaty.
In the Northwest Power Act, Congress authorized the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington to undertake regional planning to meet future demand for power and also to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife affected by the construction and operation of hydropower dams in the Columbia River Basin. The Act directs the Bonneville Power Administration, the federal agency that sells the electricity generated by the FCRPS dams, to make decisions about future power supplies consistent with the Council’s plan. This brochure briefly describes the background events that led to the Northwest Power Act.