Alaska is truly amazing when it comes to hydroelectric projects.

It has 50, by the Renewable Energy Alaska Project's count, providing about 25% of the state's electrical energy in an average year, as of 2018.

This is reliable and renewable energy, and the potential to increase it is nearly inexhaustible.

Most notable for Ketchikan, Metlakatla and Prince of Wales Island are Beaver Falls, Black Bear Lake, Chester Lake, Ketchikan Lakes, Purple Lake, Silvis Lake, South Fork Black Bear and Swan Lake hydroelectric projects.

The Tyee Lake Hydroelectric project near Wrangell is interconnected with the Swan Lake Hydro project.

Southern Southeast also has projects at Whitman Lake and a potential project at Mahoney Lake. Plus, projects exist throughout northern Southeast and in many other coastal communities.

The U.S. Department of Energy has identified 437 feasible sites yet to be developed, according to a 2019 Hydro Review article referencing a study the agency had completed. None of the sites have undergone detailed feasibility analysis in regard to economic, environmental, cultural or land-use restrictions, however.

But their eventual development could increase the state's hydropower capability by "roughly 10 times as much as the current hydro capacity in the state."

The Bureau of Reclamation, the DOE's Water Power Technology Office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a Federal Hydropower generation memorandum of understanding this week. It provides for collaboration between the trio for future renewable energy development.

The Bureau of Reclamation is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power.

The MOU it signed with DOE and the Corps coincides with National Hydropower Day, underscoring the federal commitment to hydropower, which historically has been and presently is the most vital renewable source of energy in the nation.

It certainly is essential in Alaska, particularly in southern Southeast. In Ketchikan, it affordably turns on the lights.