Powering with Water

Hydropower remains the largest single renewable energy source for electricity generation in the U.S., accounting for about 6.2% of the nation's power in 2022 according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Among MRES member utilities, hydropower from WAPA accounts for about 40% of their total wholesale electricity needs. All but two of our MRES members have allocations of hydroelectricity from WAPA.

Hydroelectricity produces no emissions or pollutants, and rain and snowfall replenish the resource. In fact, in the Missouri River Basin the same water can potentially generate electricity up to six times along its journey down the river. The six mainstem dams on the Missouri River — Fort Peck Dam at Fort Peck, Montana; Garrison Dam at Riverdale, North Dakota; Oahe Dam at Pierre, South Dakota; Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson, South Dakota; and the Fort Randall and Gavins Point Dams in southern South Dakota — support 36 hydropower units with a combined plant capacity of 2,436 megawatts (MW) of potential power generation. These units provide an average of 10 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy per year.

Red Rock Hydroelectric Project

MRES built a hydroelectric generating facility at the Red Rock Reservoir on the Des Moines River. The Red Rock Dam is located about 3 miles southwest of Pella, Iowa, and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project was constructed and is operated by MRES, and financed and owned by the Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (WMMPA).

The rated capacity of the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP) is 43.1 MW, but the project is capable of generating up to 55 MW at certain times of the year when water is plentiful. RRHP is the second-largest hydropower generating facility in the state of Iowa.

In September 2022, NBC News visited RRHP while producing an informative story on different ways to improve and expand hydropower to reach U.S. energy goals. Click here to watch the video.

In addition, MRES produced a video about the six-year journey it took to build this hydroelectric plant. Please enjoy the video below to learn more.

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