Less Water In Rivers Will Mean Less Hydropower For The Northwest

May 6, 2015

Regional power managers are meeting in Portland this week. One issue they're looking at is how drought conditions across the Northwest may affect the region's supply of hydropower.

Water supply forecasts are looking bleak for many Northwest rivers this year. Snowpack levels in many areas are far below average, and they're not likely to improve.

John Fazio is a power systems analyst for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. He said that will mean less water in rivers and less hydropower.

"Bonneville Power in particular probably won't be making as much money because there isn't as much hydropower as in a normal year, but we're still going to meet all of our demands," Fazio said.

He said the region will have more than enough hydropower to meet its own energy needs. But he expects dams will generate about a quarter of the extra power utilities would normally sell to other areas.

Lower stream flows could also mean trouble for fish and wildlife, including juvenile salmon.

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