By Editors of Power Engineering
California’s unusually wet winter hasn’t just broken the state’s five-year drought – it’s expected to cause a surge in hydroelectric generation.
Melting snow is an especially strong driver of hydroelectric generation in the spring and summer months, the Energy Information Administration reported. Snowpack levels statewide and on the Sierra Nevada mountains were 158 percent of normal as of March 21.
Hydroelectric generation in the state had already improved in 2016, and was nearly as high as the longer-term, pre-drought average from 2001 through 2010. This year has experienced double the amount of hydro generation so far, and even more increases are expected later in the year.
As the drought causes hydroelectric generation to fall in 2013 through 2015, the state increased natural gas, wind and solar generation. The EIA indicated hydroelectric growth could help mitigate the ongoing impact of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. Gas generation in the state has already fallen nearly 20 percent.