Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Western US Hydro Power Status: The Drought Has Yet to Manifest

The expected drought-driven decline in hydro power output in the Pacific states this spring should begin to present in the next month.  Snow pack has increased in the Northwest, as well as more rain in California.  The Colorado River basin is also showing above average snow for this date.

Meanwhile, an apparently minor defect was detected in a Columbia River dam last week, requiring a partial draw down in head.  

Recall that CAISO and BPA are the two primary administration regions that contain the hydro power capacity that is in question this spring and summer.  CAISO is much the smaller of the two.  Thus far this year, CAISO has been running behind last year in hydro output by about 45%, or roughly 20 GWh per day.  Meanwhile, BPA has tracked last year closely, rising above 2013 in the last three days.  But the real drama is still perhaps a month away.  Below are the dailies, with a 7 day moving average line: