A California power plant likely will shut down for the first time ever because of low water during a prolonged drought, squeezing the state's very tight electricity supplies, state officials said yesterday.
The Edward Hyatt power plant, an underground facility next to Oroville Dam in Butte County, is expected to close in August or September, said John Yarbrough, California Department of Water Resources assistant deputy director of the State Water Project. The plant has run continuously since opening in 1967. It receives water from Lake Oroville, and that reservoir has dropped because of the drought, as CNN previously reported.
[...] In addition, "high heat events in California and the rest of the West have begun earlier than usual and have exceeded historic temperature levels," the California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission leaders said in a July 1 letter to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the grid manager.
The state's power system expects to lose about 1,000 megawatts of power generation as a result. While that's a fraction of a system with daily peak demand of 44,000 MW, supplies already are tight, said Lindsay Buckley, a California Energy Commission spokesperson.
"Based on our May projections, we really didn't have 1,000 megawatts to lose," Buckley said in an interview.
[...] The loss of generation at the Hyatt plant would occur if the lake levels fall to around 630-640 feet of elevation, due to lack of water to turn the plant's hydropower turbines, said Yarbrough with the California DWR.
Lake Oroville is currently at 666 feet of elevation with 1.015 million acre-feet of water storage, which is 29% of its total capacity and 37% of its historical average. Over the last week, the reservoir has decreased from 673 to 666 feet, he said.
Hyatt is designed to produce up to 750 MW of power but typically produces between 100 and 400 MW, depending on lake levels, Buckley said. The state DWR expects the plant this year to generate about 20% of what it generated last year.
[...] Environmental laws restrict how much water can be released from the system into reservoirs. Water releases to the Feather River are required for water supply, environmental and fishery needs; for health and safety; and to prevent salinity intrusion, Yarbrough said.
Oroville–Thermalito_Complex entry on Wikipedia.