Altering the Management of Hydroelectric Facilities in California to Account for Climate Change
Date of Graduation
Project/Capstone - Global access
Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)
College of Arts and Sciences
Allison Luengen Ph. D.
Climate change is currently not a factor in the management or relicensing of a hydroelectric project in California as per the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Climate change will alter the primary form of precipitation from snow to rain, which is problematic because snow is measurable, and a reliable source of runoff while rain is unpredictable. Two case studies were analyzed: a run of the river system on the Kern River and a conventional system on the North Fork Feather River. The Kern River is at lower elevation than the North Fork Feather River. The amount of energy produced by the Kern Canyon project has decreased from 559,560 mega-watt hours in 2005 to 15,517 mega-watt hours in 2014. The projects located on the North Fork Feather River, Poe, Rock Creek and Cresta’s production in 2006 was a total of 1,952,050 mega-watt hours and in 2014 only 733,241 mega-watt hours were produced. Climate change will continue to cause a decrease in production. The number of dry water years is predicted to increase from 11 between 1976 and 2010 to 36 between 2011 and 2099. The reduction of water availability will increase the number of obsolete facilities and will cause an increase in the removal rate, as the projects cannot be abandoned as per the license. The removal will cost a significant amount of money due to substantial mitigation efforts. The management of hydroelectric facilities will need to change to include the collection of rainwater during winter storm events, shorter operation licenses, and the use of better technology to accurately predict the amount of rainfall per storm event. If changes cannot be made, 7% of the power budget will be eliminated, as hydroelectric generation in California will no longer exist.
Carter, Sarah N., "Altering the Management of Hydroelectric Facilities in California to Account for Climate Change" (2016). Master's Projects and Capstones. 333.