Hydroelectric System

  • Hydroelectric System
PG&E's hydroelectric system provides Californians with safe, reliable and clean energy from a renewable resource. The largest investor-owned hydroelectric system in the nation, its history dates back to the days of California's Gold Rush.

Simply put, hydroelectricity is generated by the force of falling water. A series of dams and reservoirs on river basins collect water. The water is then directed through large pipes (called penstocks) to turbines that spin generators to create electricity.

Fast Facts

  • PG&E’s hydroelectric system is built along 16 river basins stretching nearly 500 miles from Redding in the north to Bakersfield in the south.
  • Water used to power the hydroelectric system comes from more than 100 reservoirs located mostly in the higher elevations of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range.
  • Our 68 powerhouses have a total generating capacity of 3,896 megawatts, which is enough power to meet the needs of nearly 4 million homes.

Public Campgrounds and Picnic Areas

In addition to providing clean, cost-effective energy, the hydroelectric system provides habitat for fish and wildlife and substantial recreation opportunity. PG&E maintains public campgrounds and picnic areas at many of its reservoirs.

Our hydroelectric system is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). For periods of 30 to 50 years, FERC issues operating licenses, which establish environmental and operational requirements. PG&E currently holds 26 FERC licenses.