Arizona's Share Of Hydropower Declines Due To Drought

Published: Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 1:49pm
Updated: Friday, July 3, 2015 - 10:45am
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(Photo by Will Stone - KJZZ)
Hoover Dam.

Record low levels of water in Lake Mead are causing cutbacks in Arizona’s share of hydropower.

Arizona and Nevada each get a quarter of all the power coming from Hoover Dam. California gets the rest. But the current drought has reduced the dam’s capacity to generate electricity by about 25 percent, according to Bob Johnson with the Arizona Power Authority, the agency responsible for selling the hydropower.

That is a significant decrease and one that will be felt by the various electric utilities in Arizona that rely, at least partially, on that cheap source.

 “To the extent that they have less inexpensive power, they have to go out and pay market prices for energy, which is quite a bit higher than what they pay for Hoover,” said Johnson.

The cost of Hoover’s power can be anywhere from 50 percent to 75 percent below the market rate. Johnson said they’re projecting the current deficit in power will continue into next year.

Hoover Dam tends to supply energy when demand spikes, particularly in the summer months. Johnson said it does not constitute a big portion of the Southwest's overall power supplies.

Along with large entities such as the Central Arizona Project, smaller electric utilities, such as those in Pinal County, use the energy coming from the massive dam in northwest Arizona. 

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