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Bracing for power challenge

B.C.'s reservoirs are at record low levels, BC Hydro warns.

Following a dry summer last year, the utility’s reservoirs were below normal, and by October, its two biggest reservoirs – Williston on the Peace River and Kinbasket on the Columbia River – reached record seasonal lows. Dry conditions in the Williston basin resulted in four consecutive months of low inflows, with September, October and November being the third, second and fourth lowest in 60 years.
 
B.C. also experienced a record-breaking cold February followed by the driest March on record in parts of the province, meaning more electricity was used and reservoirs were drawn down even further.

In addition, independent power producers were also below projections and unable to meet the increased demand.

Cold and dry weather delayed the onset of the spring freshet – however, inflows into the reservoirs have started to increase in April, with warmer weather, and will soon start filling the reservoirs.
 
While BC Hydro is predicting higher water flows resulting from climate change over the long term, unpredictable weather patterns are expected to continue in the years ahead.

With this in mind, Hydro is continuously working to improve its weather and inflow forecasting, with coastal watershed forecasting down to the hour. As well, it is expanding its hydroclimate monitoring technology and investing in spillway gate replacements that will increase resiliency of the system to climate change.



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