Most U.S. hydroelectricity generation capacity is in the West
Nearly all states have conventional hydroelectric facilities. Most hydroelectricity is produced at large dams built by the federal government, and many of the largest hydropower dams are in the western United States.
About one-half of total U.S. utility-scale conventional hydroelectricity generation capacity is concentrated in Washington, California, and Oregon.1 Washington has the most conventional hydroelectric generating capacity of any state and is the site of the Grand Coulee Dam, which is the largest U.S. hydropower facility, and it has the highest electric generation capacity of all U.S. power plants. East of the Mississippi River, New York has the largest conventional hydroelectricity generation capacity followed by Alabama.
In 2022, total U.S. conventional hydroelectricity net summer generation capacity was about 79,980 megawatts (MW)—or about 80 million kilowatts.
- The top five states and their percentage shares of U.S. total conventional hydroelectricity net summer generation capacity in 2022 were:
- New York6%
Hydroelectricity generation varies with precipitation levels
Because hydroelectricity generation ultimately depends on precipitation, and precipitation levels vary seasonally and annually, the ranking of each state in terms of annual hydroelectricity generation may be different from its ranking in generation capacity.
In 2022, total U.S. conventional hydroelectricity generation was equal to about 6.2% (about 262 billion kilowatthours [kWh]) of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation.
- The top five states and their percentage shares of total U.S. conventional hydroelectricity generation in 2022 were:
- New York10%
In 2022, the United States had about 23,050 MW of total pumped-storage hydroelectric generating capacity in 18 states, and 5 states combined had 61% of the national total.
- The top five states and their percentage shares of total U.S. pumped-storage hydroelectricity net summer generation capacity in 2022 were:
- South Carolina12%
Pumped-storage hydroelectric systems generally use more electricity to pump water to upper water storage reservoirs than they produce with stored water. Therefore, pumped-storage facilities have net negative electricity generation balances.
Most dams were not built for electricity generation
Only a small percentage of the dams in the United States produce electricity. Most dams were constructed for irrigation and flood control and do not have hydroelectricity generators. The U.S. Department of Energy estimated that in 2012, non-powered dams in the United States had 12,000 MW of potential hydropower capacity.
1 Utility-scale power plants have at least 1 MW (or 1,000 kilowatts) of total net electric generation capacity.
Last updated: April 20, 2023, with most recent data available.