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Columbia River flows at The Dalles rise to 113% of normal: center

Houston — Flows on the Columbia River from April through September at The Dalles Dam on the border of Washington and Oregon will likely be 113% of normal, the Northwest River Forecast Center said Tuesday.

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The water supply outlook at The Dalles has risen 13 percentage points since the start of the year and sits 6 percentage points below the year-ago forecast, which was about 119% of normal. Flows at The Dalles through September were forecast last week at 112% of normal.

Flows for the 2017-2018 water season at The Dalles have risen in the historical rankings to 20th from 29th since the start of the year, according to 1960-2018 historical data.

Mid-Columbia on-peak second quarter packages are currently around $13/MWh, according to Platts M2MS data, about 75 cents below where the package was last week.

This sees Mid-C Q2 2018 packages trading about 12.5% above the $12/MWh where Mid-C Q2 2017 package was trading a year ago.

Further upstream, flows at the Grand Coulee Dam will likely be 118% of normal, up 6 percentage points from the year-ago forecast of around 112% of normal.

Flows at Grand Coulee for the 2017-18 water season are currently ranked 15th out of the years between 1960 and 2018.

Flows at Dworshak in Idaho are likely to be 116% of normal for this water season, 12 percentage points above the year-ago forecast of around 104% of normal, the data showed. Since the beginning of the year, the water supply outlook at Dworshak has increased 15 percentage points.

The National Weather Service's most recent extended precipitation outlook shows a slight chance of below-average precipitation in the Pacific Northwest from July through September. Mid-Columbia on-peak Q3 prices currently are averaging around $28.50/MWh. Last March, Mid-C Q3 2017 prices were averaging around $27.50/MWh.

The Bonneville Power Administration will test its oversupply management protocol March 28, ahead of the spring runoff. The protocol has typically been used in spring, when there is an abundance of water and strong hydro and wind generation but low demand, which can result in an oversupply of power on the grid. Any extra water during these periods of high flows cannot be spilled because of water-quality standards and aquatic species concerns, and, therefore, must be passed through hydropower turbines, which can add to an oversupply situation.

The protocol allows BPA to pay generators for displacement-related costs during an oversupply situation. Last year between March and June, BPA used the protocol to curtail nearly 140 GWh of power, mostly during off-peak hours.

But the protocol measure has not gone without controversy. Generators have been critical of the practice in the past, saying the agency has not been timely implementing curtailments. In some cases, generators have said the curtailments have resulted in stranded transactions and even penalties for transmission customers.

Ensemble streamflow prediction forecasts, which the NWRFC uses, compare historical and current data and run the information through model scenarios to project what water supplies could look like. Power market participants closely watch the reports as an indication of upcoming water supplies for hydro-electric generation in the Pacific Northwest.

--Meaghan Coleman,

--Edited by Valarie Jackson,