California’s Drought Taking a Toll on Hydropower

Low water levels are visible in the Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville on August 19, 2014, in Oroville, California. Lake Oroville is currently at 32 percent of its total 3,537,577 acre feet. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(SOURCE)   Impacts from California’s worsening drought continue to add up, and this time, a renewable energy source is taking a hit.

A report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) details how California’s hydropower generation has been decimated by the drought, dropping to unprecedented levels. The numbers are telling: From 2004 to 2013 hydropower accounted for 20 percent of California’s total energy generation during the first six months of the year; in 2014, that total dropped to just 10 percent during the same time period.

Even though California’s drought began in 2011, water levels in reservoirs across the state started to dramatically drop starting in 2013 because of a prolonged absence of water — to the tune of 4 trillion gallons a year.  Lower water levels result in a decreased capacity to funnel large quantities of water through turbines at hydroelectric dams, and thus, generate electricity.

Take three of the state’s largest hydroelectric dams, for instance. Water levels at Lake Shasta, home to Shasta Dam, are down to just 24 percent of total capacity and 41 percent of the historical average for this time of year. The same goes for Folsom Lake, home to Folsom Dam, where, as of Oct. 19, water levels dropped to 33 percent of capacity and 62 percent of the historical average for this time of year. And also at Lake Oroville, home to the Edward Hyatt Power Plant, where levels dropped to 29 percent of total capacity and 47 percent of the historical average.

At this same time in 2011, the water levels in all of California’s major reservoirs were above historical averages. So, too, were the aforementioned: Shasta Lake (72 percent of capacity and 21 percent above historical average), Lake Oroville (83 percent capacity and 36 percent above historical average) and Folsom Lake (65 percent of capacity and 22 percent above historical average).

You get the point: California’s reservoirs are drying up.

Hydropower is among the cleanest (in terms of emissions) and cheapest forms of energy production in the world, so when the most populated state in the U.S. loses 10 percent of its production of hydropower, that can have potentially serious consequences on both the environmental impact of the energy sector, and the price that consumers pay for that energy.

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4 thoughts on “California’s Drought Taking a Toll on Hydropower

  1. California is the most morally corrupt state in the union. The most drug use, gangs, divorce,. California produces the greatest number of porno videos in the world, including child porn. California is the number one most powerful LGBT promoter in the union. Although outwardly beautiful and seemingly prosperous, Calif. is a seething Sodom and Gomorrah, I believe because of the immense moral corruption that there are many in the state who have given themselves over to the spirit of the Nephelim, same as it was in the days of Noah. May God have mercy on California even though His judgment is now being executed in the way of no rain. “maranatha’

  2. Here we go again Gordon, as you already know another Ebola case of all places New York city. If this one spreads there will be panic.

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