Drought-stricken California shut down one of its largest hydroelectric Plant on Thursday due to the scarcity of enough water to power it. The six-turbine Edward Hyatt Power Plant was taken off-line after the water level in the Oroville Dam reservoir that feeds it sank to a historic low of fewer than 195.7 meters above mean sea level.The reservoir in the Sierra Nevada foothills north of Sacramento was less than a quarter full. It was the lowest level since the nation’s tallest dam was completed in 1967 and the first time the hydroelectric Plant has been idled by lack of water, officials said.
The state Department of Water Resources said that the Plant could produce enough power for 80,000 homes and businesses, but its shutdown had been expected, and the state has planned for its loss in both water and electrical grid management. The statement also added that the steps had been taken in anticipation of the loss of power generation. Karla Nemeth, agency director, said that this is just one of many unprecedented impacts we are experiencing in California as a result of our climate-induced drought.
The western United States is in the midst of a historic drought that is emptying reservoirs and contributing to massive wildfires.Extreme conditions are often from a combination of unusual random, short-term, and natural weather patterns heightened by long-term, human-caused climate change that has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years.
Hydroelectricity provides about 15% of California’s electricity, but production has plummeted in recent years. The low water level at Lake Oroville is a far cry from four years ago when more than 180,000 people were evacuated after heavy winter storms filled the reservoir and its two spillways collapsed. The stressed uncontrolled release of huge amounts of water didn’t happen, but the state was left with a $1 billion repair bill.