Ask Bob – September 2023

Bob Pierce answers questions about energy efficiency, consumer products, and cooperative governance. He is Clearwater Power’s Chief Operating Officer and welcomes your questions on our Ask Bob page.

Where is My Power From?

Clearwater Power Co. buys 100% of its electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration, a not-for-profit government entity. BPA markets wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest, one nonfederal nuclear plant, and several small non-federal power plants.

The dams are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. The nonfederal nuclear plant, Columbia Generating Station, is owned and operated by Energy Northwest, a joint operating agency of the state of Washington.

Since that power is 84.7% hydroelectric and 11% nuclear with only 4.3% other purchases, the power we supply to our members is almost entirely carbon-free.

Once the power is generated, it must move from the generation sites to Clearwater Power’s 21 substations. This is done across high-voltage transmission lines. BPA operates 15,000 miles of transmission lines in the Northwest. For some of Clearwater Power’s substations, the power is also moved across Avista Utilities’ transmission lines to avoid unnecessary duplication of transmission lines, but we do not buy electricity from Avista. These transmission lines supply power to Clearwater Power substations.

At the substations, the high voltage electricity from the transmission lines is reduced to distribution voltage, either 14,400 or 7,200 volts, for our distribution lines. This is the voltage of the power lines that run from the substations to your home. The distribution transformer near your home then lowers the voltage to the secondary voltage you use in your home, normally 120/240 volts.

Bob Pierce headshot
Bob Pierce, COO, Clearwater Power