Friday, January 24, 2014

Hydro Power Deficits in the Western US in 2014

The drought and accompanying low snow pack are making headlines in California.  Many basins are tracking below normal snow, and most reservoirs are already low.  Key areas to watch are the Columbia River Basin, the Sierra Nevada, and the Colorado River Basin.  

The effects of low precip will be felt later in the spring, and low volumes will result in both a shorter and a lower runoff period.  Some early indications of lower YOY comparisons already occurring are in the Bonneville Power Admin, and California's CAISO generation data.  Here is how the current year is stacking up to '13 so far in January:

Output has so far been running about 3GW light in the BPA region, and about 1GW light in California.  Likely similar impacts in AZ and NE.  This has a large natural gas equivalent, and the impacts will be much more significant in the Spring/Summer if the drought persists.

To see the Colorado River Basin snow pack status, visit the Lake Powell Water Database snow pack graph