‘Would Need To Be Made Up From Other Sources’: Drought Could Cut California’s Hydropower In Half This Summer

The severe drought in California threatens to significantly undermine the state’s ability to generate hydroelectric power, raising costs for families and driving up planet-warming emissions, according to a federal government forecast 

Assuming drought conditions persist, California’s hydroelectric generation would be 48% less this summer than if water conditions were normal, the US Energy Information Administration said in a blog post on Wednesday 

The EIA flagged that as of April 1, California’s snowpack was about 40% below the median value from 1991 through 2020 

Under the EIA’s drought scenario forecast, which is part of the agency’s Short Term Energy Outlook released last month, hydropower would make up just 8% of California’s total power generation 

“This shortfall would need to be made up from other sources of electric power supply,” the EIA said 

California will need to import more electricity from other markets and use more in-state natural gas-fired power generation, the EIA said. 

The EIA estimates that in a drought scenario, wholesale power prices in western US electricity markets will be 5% higher and carbon dioxide emissions in California will be 6% higher than under normal conditions 

All of this means the drought, which is being caused by the climate crisis, threatens to worsen both the climate crisis and the inflation crisis raising costs on families 

Energy experts have told CNN that some power grid operators are not taking climate change into account in their planning, making the grid more vulnerable