Tag Archives: Renewable Resources

Drought Is Killing California’s Hydroelectric Power. Can Solar Make Up The Difference?

By Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Snowmelt entering Big Creek’s hydroelectric powerhouses has slowed to a trickle. Reservoirs sit at their lowest levels ever.

The 102-year-old central-California complex owned and operated by Southern California Edison lost 80 percent of its hydroelectric power this year, a direct result of a persistent drought that has wiped clean the Sierra Nevada snowpack and produced an eerie silence inside Big Creek’s 27 damns and nine powerhouses.

“This is definitely the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Andrew McMillan, operations manager for Edison’s massive hydro plant, a historic project situated between Yosemite and King’s Canyon financed by Henry Huntington in 1913 to send power to his Pacific Electric Red Cars.

Knowing droughts can hang around for years, even decades, Edison managed the water to keep some generators humming during peak summer demand, McMillan said. SCE then added new solar and wind power to replace the 800 megawatts of hydroelectric evaporated by the drought, said Colin Cushnie, SCE’s vice president of energy procurement and management.

Statewide, the pattern is repeated, only on a grander scale. The California Independent Systems Operator, which monitors 80 percent of the state electric grid, says California is approaching the largest reduction in hydroelectricity in 10 years.

Read full article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune