PG&E snow survey promising for hydroelectricity

News

Even after a month with little precipitation, our wet winter’s aftermath is still blanketing the Sierra Nevada Mountains white. With the snowpack still in great shape, PG&E has a positive outlook for what it can give its customers.

Every month so far in 2017, PG&E crews sent to measure the Sierra snowpack have been recording high numbers. January and February’s heavy storms helped some areas accumulate snow around 200 percent of normal. It’s also helping PG&E with producing hydroelectricity.

“We’re still seeing significant snow on these courses,” said company spokesman Denny Boyles. “It looks like we’re going to be in good condition to not only generate hydroelectricity now, but to have that resource available in the summer months when we’ll need it more.”

Hydroelectricity is typically 15 percent of what’s delivered to PG&E customers. In years past, the company has had to keep up with that under record drought conditions.

With a higher snow water equivalent being recorded, providing hydroelectricity isn’t expected to be a problem, with Boyles saying the system has a “better chance to being used to its full potential” when there is more water in the snowpack.

However, even with a plentiful snowpack, supplying enough hydroelectricity for residents in the Central Valley is an ongoing battle.

“After this many years of drought, one exceedingly wet winter isn’t going to erase all of that, but it seems like it’s making good progress,” Boyles said.

Boyles stresses just because the snowpack is above 200 percent of normal, it doesn’t mean 200 percent of hydroelectricity will be produced. He said forecasted water availability for hydroelectricity is high.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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