Thursday, October 28

Reservoir level in California would fall so low it would shut down hydroelectric plant

(CNN) — Water in a key California reservoir will drop so low this summer that its hydroelectric power plant will be forced to shut down for the first time, officials said Thursday, overloading the state’s already taxed power grid.

A relentless drought and record heat wave, both exacerbated by climate change, have seen the water supply in Northern California’s Lake Oroville quickly deplete. As a result of the “alarming levels,” officials will likely be forced to shut down the Edward Hyatt power plant for the first time since it opened in 1967, California Energy Commission spokeswoman Lindsay Buckley told CNN.

The water in Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest reservoir, is pumped through underground facilities to generate electricity, which can power up to 800,000 homes when operating at full capacity.

Drought worsens and hits California 0:42

While the water level in the reservoir currently hovers around 213 meters above sea level, if it continues to fall at the currently projected rate of 195 meters, there will not be enough water to continue operating the Hyatt plant in two to three months. coinciding with the typical peak of summer heat and wildfire season.

“If lake levels drop below those elevations later this summer, DWR will, for the first time, halt generation at the Hyatt power plant due to a lack of sufficient water to power the plant’s power generation turbines. “Said Liza Whitmore, public information officer for DWR’s Oroville Field Division.

Heat wave affects California

The announcement came as California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide heat wave emergency on Thursday, with record temperatures and increased electricity use putting pressure on the grid.

“In the midst of a major heat wave that is stressing power grids in the western states of the United States, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an emergency proclamation today to release additional energy capacity,” Newsom’s office said in a statement. press.

The governor’s statement, citing “extreme danger” to safety residents due to the heat wave, suspends permitting requirements to allow immediate use of backup power generators to help relieve stress on the city’s power grid. condition.

Hoover Dam is at its lowest water level 0:34

California power grid officials have asked residents to cut power through Friday, especially during afternoons when electricity use is at its peak. Reducing energy use during this rush hour of the day will help prevent unnecessary power outages and damage to power lines, state officials previously said.

As of 2018, hydroelectric plants generated about 13% of the state’s electricity. The Hyatt Power Plant is the fourth largest hydroelectric power producer in the state, according to the state energy commission. Due to the already low water supply at Lake Oroville, the plant’s production has been reduced to 20% of its full capacity and officials have relied on other facilities to avoid major power outages to homes and businesses, Whitmore said.

A similar situation unfolds at the Hoover Dam, which forms Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States and produces enough electricity for nearly 8 million Americans, where record water levels have reduced energy capacity by about 25 percent. hundred.

A hydroelectric plant downstream from Hyatt’s California facility will also operate at reduced levels this summer despite increased energy demand during the typical peak of summer, Whitmore said.

The effects of a drought

In addition to encouraging energy-saving measures, officials across the state are urging Californians to reduce their water use as much as possible during the summer months ahead. They recommend reducing water use by taking shorter showers, fixing leaks in the home, planting drought-tolerant trees, and reducing irrigation of domestic landscapes. Some officials in Northern California have already taken a stricter approach by declaring a water shortage emergency and issuing mandatory water restrictions that carry fines for non-compliance.

“Water is a precious and limited resource, especially in drought-prone California, where the next dry spell could be just around the corner,” said the state’s water resources department. “As a result, conserving water and efficiently using California’s water supply are top priorities.”

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