Climate change challenges power plant operations
Written byJULIET EILPERIN, Washington Post
Drought and rising temperatures are forcing water managers across the country to scramble for ways to produce the same amount of power from the hydroelectric grid with less water, including from behemoths such as the Hoover Dam.
For more than three-quarters of a century, the Hoover Dam has represented an engineering triumph, harnessing the power of the mighty Colorado River to generate electricity for customers in not just nearby Las Vegas but as far away as Southern California and Mexico.
But the bleached volcanic rock ringing Black Canyon above Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the dam, speaks to the limits of human engineering. Higher temperatures and less snowpack have reduced the river’s flow and left the reservoir 103 feet below elevation for its full targeted storage capacity, which it last came close to reaching in 1999.
In the Colorado River’s 100-year recorded history, 1999 through 2010 ranks as the second-driest 12-year period, yielding an average of 16 percent less energy.VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE