Drought Forces California to Shut Down Major Hydroelectric Power Plant

Hyatt Powerplant Lake Oroville (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Drought and extremely low water levels in the Lake Oroville reservoir have forced authorities in California to shut down a major hydroelectric power plant, amid intense summer heat and peak electricity demand.

As Breitbart News noted last month, officials began preparing to shut down the Edward Hyatt Powerplant for the first time since it opened in the late 1960s. The drought has not yet been as long or as extreme as the 2011-2017 drought, but the modest winter rains and snows failed to generate much runoff, as much of it was absorbed into the ground.

The California Department of Water Resources said in a statement quoted by ABC 7 News in San Francisco:

“DWR State Water Project operations managers have taken the Hyatt Powerplant at Lake Oroville offline due to falling lake levels. This is the first time Hyatt Powerplant has gone offline as a result of low lake levels.”

Nemeth went on to say California has been bracing for this moment “and steps have been taken in anticipation of the loss of power generation.”

“This is just one of many unprecedented impacts we are experiencing in California as a result of our climate-induced drought,” Nemeth said.

Though Nemeth blamed climate change, scientists have not found a definite relationship between warmer global surface temperatures and precipitation. And as former Obama administration science official Steven E. Koonin has noted recently, while warmed temperatures might increase wildfires in the future, “whatever influence a changing climate might have had on wildfires globally in recent decades, human factors unrelated to climate were dominant.” He notes that lower rainfall and higher temperatures play a role, but other factors are more amenable to intervention.

Hydroelectric power makes up over 10% of California’s energy consumption. Last summer, the state was forced to endure rolling blackouts, as wind and solar power were unable to take up the slack during a statewide heat wave.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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