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Let's talk hydro

Amanda Sargent's picture
Senior Resource Adequacy Analyst Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC)

Experienced with electric and natural gas utilities, specializing on integrated resource planning, cost-effectiveness testing and energy efficiency program management and design. Am passionate...

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  • Aug 24, 2021
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Unprecedented drought and fires continue to affect the West's energy situation. The continued drought conditions across much of the West have forced Lake Oroville's hydroelectric power plant to shut down due to insufficient minimum water levels required in the reservoir. (Andrew Jeong, August 6th, 2021, Washington Post)

 Scientific American's Corbin Hiar recently summed up the situation well in their August 19th piece: "California's predicament — in which emissions-free hydropower is replaced by planet-warming power from natural gas plants — underscores the need to rapidly decarbonize the electric grid, according to sustainability experts."

What do you think about the effect of unmatched drought, fire and heat events across the West this summer, and their potential future impact on resource adequacy?

Amanda Sargent's picture
Thank Amanda for the Post!
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 24, 2021

The weather patterns that cause hydropower resources to fall behind are at least somewhat more predictable than the day-to-day variations from wind and solar-- does that at least help with the planning for resource adequacy in your view, Amanda? Or does it not matter if we end up at the same place: with gas plants leaned into? 

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on Aug 30, 2021

The drought in the west has been the major news story.  But an equivalent case which has been less reported is the heavy rainfall in the Southeast.  For a forecast which turned out to be accurate - a month or two later - see https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/june-2021-us....

Amanda Sargent's picture
Amanda Sargent on Aug 31, 2021

Spot on

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