Energy Northwest produces electricity at its nuclear, wind, solar and hydropower generating facilities by converting various forms of energy into electricity.
The Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant uses heat from nuclear fission to boil water into steam. The steam flows over the blades of one high pressure turbine and three turbines causing the turbines to spin. The spinning turbines are connected to a generator, causing it to spin as well. The spinning generator produces electricity that is sent directly onto the Northwest electric power grid. Utilities receive the power, adjust voltage as necessary, and deliver the power to individual homes and businesses.
At Energy Northwest’s Nine Canyon Wind Project 63 wind-actuated turbine blades are connected to hubs that are connected to generators at the top of the wind turbine towers. The spinning generators make electricity that is sent to a power substation before being added to the Northwest power grid.
The White Bluffs Solar Station converts sunlight directly into electricity using 242 silicon solar panels. The panels produce a small amount of electricity that is sent onto the power grid. Solar power is the most expensive electricity produced at Energy Northwest, costing nearly three times as much as the wind project and six times as much as power from the nuclear power plant.
Energy Northwest’s Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project, south of Washington’s Mt. Rainier, produces electricity from water that flows from the lake through a five-mile long pipe to a power station near the town of Packwood. The falling water spins the blades of a large turbine. The spinning turbine in turn spins an electric generator to produce electricity.