Calif.’s early spring hydropower generation jump to highest level since 2011

Calif.’s early spring hydropower generation jump to highest level since 2011

California’s early spring hydropower generation has jumped to its highest level since 2011, thanks to the past wet winter that partly filled many of the state’s desiccated reservoirs.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a statement that easing drought help the state’s hydropower generation recover from its fifteen-year-low recorded in 2015. However, the federal agency cautioned that hydroelectricity generation isn’t expected to improve further this year.

Oakland-based Pacific Institute’s water & climate analyst Peter Gleick said he expects the Golden State’s hydropower generation to recover only marginally this year.

Speaking on the topic, he said, “Northern California received about an average amount of rainfall, but the reservoirs were extremely low and so less than an average amount of water was let go through the turbines. I would estimate that 2015-2016 will be below average (for) hydropower again, though certainly better than last year.”

California, the fourth-largest hydropower producer in the United States, suffered a drastic decline in its ability to generate electricity from water due to its years-long drought, which forced it to increase its dependence more on fossil fuels and other renewable resources.

Prior to the drought, California produced roughly 40 per cent of its total electricity using water during wet years. Natural gas was used to produce most of the rest. Nowadays, hydropower accounts for just 11 per cent of its total electricity production. Natural gas accounts for 52 per cent of total electricity production.

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