Guaranteeing the Future of Hydropower Around the World

Hydropower holds great promise as an energy source for the future. Not only is it renewable and carbon neutral, it also helps stabilize electricity grids and enables the integration of other renewable sources, including solar and wind power. Around the world, organizations like the Northwest Hydroelectric Association (NWHA) and the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) are working to share information, develop effective communication strategies, and address the challenges of the 21st century. 

In our cover story, we speak to fourth-generation hydropower professional Brenna Vaughn, who serves as the executive director of the Northwest Hydroelectric Association (NWHA), which brings together members from across the Pacific Northwest, both in the United States and in Canada. Ms. Vaughn tells us about the top messages that hydropower entities need to communicate to the public to secure the future of hydropower and realize its potential to guarantee grid stability and power the future. 

We also interview Catrin Bryan, the director of dam safety at engineering and construction firm McMillen Jacobs Associates and an active member of the Canadian Dam Association (CDA) and the NWHA. Ms. Bryan works on dam safety project across the northwestern United States and Canada. 

Tony Bennett, the director of public safety at Ontario Power Generation, played a key role in developing the CDA’s guidelines for public safety around dams. Mr. Bennett tells us about the significance of public safety around dams and the new techniques that are helping preserve lives in Canada and around the world. 

We also speak with Michael Rogers, the current president of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). ICOLD recently released a World Declaration on Dam Safety, which seeks to summarize and promote the dam safety knowledge collected by its 104 national member organizations around the world. 

Luc Deroo is the managing director of French consulting engineering firm ISL, which is active in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and is also active in ICOLD and in the French Committee on Dams and Reservoirs. Mr. Deroo tells us about his work addressing emerging, 21st-century challenges for hydropower, including those linked to demographic change, climate change, and technological advances. 

Important work on dam safety and the development new technologies is going on around the world—from Canada to Europe, Africa, and Asia. It is all eminently worthy of our attention—and can provide important lessons for the hydropower industry in this nation, too. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at