PG&E snow pack measurements say levels are increasing

Mar 31, 2016 4:13 PM by News Staff

Water is not only an important element for consumption and agriculture.

It's also important for energy production.

PG&E is performing snow surveys to predict the amount of hydro power that will be produced.

For four months of the year PG&E crews travel to difficult, high altitude places to measure the snow pack.

On this occasion it was Dyer Mountain, at 7100 feet above sea level.

“Well this snow survey there a lot of worked involved, we have to come up in very cold weather and measure the snow depth but that information is very important,” Moreno said. “It's been collected for many decades and it helps California Gage where we are in water conditions.”

In Dyer Mountain, a year ago there were four inches of snow, and today the measurements indicated 80 inches. That is a 130 percent of average, or 30 percent above average.

Whereas last year it was 6 percent, according to the Department of Water Resources in the Northern Sierra and Cascades the snow pack is 97 percent of average.

On PG&E, watershed lands the snow pack is 121 percent of normal or 21 percent above and that is because their reservoirs are smaller.

That is not only good news for the water conditions but for the power supply.

"This snow will melt into six of PG&E powerhouses that will provide hydroelectric energy through the spring and the summer."

Hydroelectric power accounts to about 15 percent of the power needs.

"Its good clean energy it's very cost effective, it's renewable, there are no carbon emissions from that, so it's a good form of energy to have.”

When it comes to the drought its nowhere near over. 2014 and 2015 were, respectively, the warmest and second-warmest years in over 100 years. A good year of rain won’t compensate for years of drought.

The snow pack is supposed to be at its deepest on Friday and there could still be more rain underway.


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