UMATILLA, Or.,--It's called the Powerhouse, home to 14 main generating units. Each can produce 70 megawatts of power. At full capacity, the house can provide 1,100 megawatts. That's enough power to supply the entire city of Portland or Seattle. According to Army Corps. of Engineers Operations Manager, Randy Ryan, Hydropower is by far the cheapest mode of generating electrical power.
"We take advantage of nature's rain cycle and utilize a free fuel..thats coming down the river," says Ryan.
Another advantage McNary Dam has over other dams is its "Black Start feature. Hypothetically, if the entire northwest power grid shut down, Station Service Units could restart the main generators without any alternating power source. Plus, employees like to see how much power is being produced on their Readerboard.