Lake Oroville’s hydroelectric powerplant goes offline

Local News

OROVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — The hydroelectric powerplant at Lake Oroville has been taken offline after the lake reached historic lows Thursday.

This is the first time the Edward Hyatt Power Plant has been shut down due to dropping lake levels, Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Lake Oroville was at 641.57 feet.

A record set in 1977 of 645 feet was broken Tuesday when the lake dropped down to 642.86 feet. On that day, the DWR said it expected the hydroelectric plant to go offline as soon as Wednesday.

Nemeth said the DWR “anticipated this moment, and the state has planned for its loss in both water and grid management.”

“We have been in regular communication about the status of Hyatt Powerplant with the California Independent Service Operator (CAISO) and the California Energy Commission and steps have been taken in anticipation of the loss of power generation,” Nemeth said.

The Edward Hyatt Power Plant is estimated to provide power for the equivalent of 80,000 customers, but the power grid is expected to be able to absorb the loss.

In the meantime, California officials want all residents to reduce their water use by 15%.

“This is just one of many unprecedented impacts we are experiencing in California as a result of our climate-induced drought,” Nemeth continued. “California and much of the western part of the United States are experiencing the impacts of accelerated climate change including record-low reservoir levels due to dramatically reduced runoff this spring.”

The state’s Drought Monitor shows the majority of California under exceptional drought conditions.

But some Republican lawmakers like Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, said the powerplant’s fate was preventable. Thursday, he blamed its shutdown on “government mismanagement and misplaced priorities.”

“Governor Newsom just wants to throw up his hands and say, ‘nothing we can do, it’s climate change,'” Gallagher wrote. “But Californians should reject the Governor’s cop outs and excuses. Draining the lake to a historic low was preventable. And the forced shutdown of Hyatt Powerplant was preventable.”

Gallagher stood on the Oroville Dam earlier this week alongside Congressman Doug LaMalfa and state Sen. Jim Nielsen. The three called out Gov. Gavin Newsom, saying he has been ignoring the needs of agriculture in favor of a program to preserve fish in the Delta.

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