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Northwest hydropower output in August up YOY but down against 10-year average

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Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August


Northwest hydropower output in August up YOY but down against 10-year average

Pacific Northwest hydropower production in August had mixed comparisons against historical averages amid warmer-than-normal and drier-than-normal conditions.

Temperatures over most of the Northwest exceeded the norm by 1 degree to as much as 6 degrees F in August, while precipitation was largely 50% below normal, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show that total net generation at 23 hydroelectric plants across the Pacific Northwest was 7.9% higher than the year-ago level but 6.7% below the 10-year average as it reached 4.81 million MWh. That figure is down 19.3% from July.

Year-to-date hydropower production through August totaled 59.03 million MWh, down 1.8% versus the year-ago level but up 8.4% from the 10-year average for the period.

In the upper Columbia River Basin, the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest of the region, generated 1.76 million MWh, up 6.9% versus the year-ago month but down 6.7% versus the 10-year average for the period. The Chief Joseph Dam generated 950,635 MWh, up 6.6% versus August 2017 but down 4.2% versus the 10-year average for the month.

August flows in the lower Columbia River Basin were also higher versus the year-ago period. Located on the Washington-Oregon border, the Bonneville Dam produced 122,056 MWh, up 6.6% versus August 2017 but 24.7% lower versus the 10-year average for the month. The Dalles Dam, 50 miles downstream, produced 318,429 MWh, up 6.5% from the year-ago month but down 6.8% from the 10-year average for August.

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