PG&E Hydrographers Encouraged by Impressive Winter

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LAKE SPAULDING -- PG&E hydrographers conducted their April snow survey in the Sierra Mountains.

After a quick helicopter ride from Lake Spaulding, hydrographers begin their snow survey.

"We are so happy to see that we have lots of snow," hydrographer Chris Sanderson said. "This year, we have 16 feet of snow, and a couple years ago, where we were just walking through dirt."

That was two years ago during the peak of the drought, when the crew took Governor Jerry Brown up a dry mountain. Last year, in the same spot, it was a little better at 10 feet. Monday, they measured 16 feet, or 160 percent of normal.

All the snow and water that was measured eventually goes down Lake Fordyce, and into the power station at Lake Spaulding. That is where PG&E makes sure everything is running efficiently.

"It's a clean affordable type of power that we can really ramp up or ramp down, based on the needs of the grid. So it's a vital piece of our larger portfolio that really allows us to stabilize the grid, and provide power," PG&E spokesperson Brandi Ehlers said.

PG&E said their goal is to have about 15 percent of their power source be hydroelectric. They rely on it when they do not produce enough wind and solar power. But during the recent drought years, that wasn't possible. After experiencing one of the wettest winters in the last few years, they are confident they can increase their hydroelectric supply.

"Ideally, we'd like to keep the water as long as we can, so that we have water into the late summer and fall, so that we can produce clean, renewable energy," Sanderson said.

PG&E will conduct their next snow survey at the end of the month.