Pacific Northwest Hydro Output
by Hilary Costa
Washington -- Hydroelectric generation in the Pacific Northwest in December was 5.7 million MWh, the same amount output in December 2009, according to preliminary data from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
In addition, last month's production at 23 of the region's hydroelectric generating facilities was just 1% higher than the 10-year average of 5.6 million MWh.
The Pacific Northwest was inundated by a succession of storms in December, helping validate forecasts of an exceptionally cold and wet winter for the region caused by a La Nina weather pattern.
On the Upper Columbia River, Grand Coulee Dam generated 1.5 million MWh in December, about 9% below the 1.7 million MWh generated in the same month last year. Chief Joseph Dam showed an output of 813,000 MWh, down 7% from the 876,000 MWh of December 2009.
The Dalles Dam on the Lower Columbia output 599,000 MWh in December, up 7% from the 562,000 MWh generated in December 2009. Generation at the Lower Columbia River's Bonneville Dam budged up 2% from last December, at 455,000 MWh.
December 2010's overall tie with December 2009's production comes despite several individual dams reporting a more than 100% gain in output year-on-year.
Detroit Dam on Oregon's North Santiam River showed output last month 171% higher than in December 2009, with 52,800 MWh generated, compared with 19,500 the previous year. Lookout Point Dam on Oregon's Middle Fork Willamette River showed similar gains, producing 168% more than the same month in 2009 -- 34,600 MWh, compared with 12,900 MWh.
Many other dams showed significant, if not huge, gains over December 2009. Ice Harbor Dam on Washington state's Snake River was up 26% over the previous year, producing 141,000 MWh, compared with 112,000 MWh. Also on the Snake, Lower Granite Dam produced 139,000 MWh in December, up 24% from the 112,000 MWh output a year ago.
The Dworshak Dam on the North Fork of Idaho's Clearwater River generated 48,400 MWh last month, inching up 6% from the 45,600 MWh output in December 2009.
The dam with the greatest decrease in generation year-on-year was the Upper Columbia's Hungry Horse Dam, which produced 34,200 MWh -- a 43% drop from the 59,700 MWh output in December 2009.
Overgeneration Discussions Continue by Staff, BPA Journal, January 2011
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