The water in Lake Oroville – the state’s second-largest reservoir – is pumped through underground facilities to generate electricity, which can supply electricity to 800,000 homes when operated at full capacity.
If the water level in the reservoir is currently rising above 700 feet above sea level and continues to fall to 640 feet at the currently projected rate, there will not be enough water to continue running the Hyatt plant for two to three months. Summer heat and wildfires are the typical peak of the season.
“If the lake levels fall below those heights this summer, DWR will stop production at the Hyatt Power Station for the first time because there is not enough water to replace the plant’s power turbines,” said Public Information Officer Lisa Whitmore. Field Division in DWR’s Oro.
“In the midst of a major heat wave emphasizing energy phases in states in the western United States, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed an emergency declaration to release additional energy capacity,” the Newsom office said in a statement.
The governor’s announcement, citing safety as a “serious risk” to residents due to the heat wave, puts a stop to the need to allow immediate use of backup power generators to mitigate pressure on the state’s energy phase.
Whitmore said a hydropower plant downstream of the Hyatt facility in California will also operate at a reduced level despite increased power requirements during the regular summer peak this summer.
In addition to encouraging energy saving activities, statewide authorities are urging Californians to reduce their water use as much as possible during the upcoming hot summer months. They recommend taking short showers, repairing home leaks, planting drought-tolerant trees, and reducing water use by reducing watering to home landscapes. Some officials in Northern California have already declared a water shortage emergency, imposing mandatory water restrictions and imposing fines for non-compliance.
“Water is a precious and limited resource, especially in drought-stricken California, where the next dry season may be right around the corner,” the state Department of Water Resources said. “As a result, water conservation and the efficient use of California’s water supply are key priorities.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the title of Lindsay Buckley. He is a spokesman for the California Energy Commission.