Monday, November 26, 2007

Long Dry Spell

The EEI newsletter has an interesting article concerning the impact of the East Coast drought on energy production:

Georgia Power's Hydro Generation Slumps Due to Drought

Georgia Power officials said hydro generation was down 51 percent this year because of Georgia's severe drought, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported. To make up for the shortfall, the company was forced to buy $33.3 million worth of coal and oil to fuel power plants.

Lake Lanier, whose waters power several hydro facilities in the western part of the state, is down 16 feet below normal and is expected to drop another six feet by mid-December. David Stooksbury, a University of Georgia professor called this the "worst drought since the mid-1920s" and expressed his concern for the year ahead. Stooksbury said: "But my real concern is for next summer. The consequences for Georgia's economy could be dire if we don't receive adequate recharge."
Atlanta Business Chronicle , Nov. 19.

The drought is causing power companies to produce more power from coal and oil -- both of which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Hydro has its own problems -- a lot of them -- but it doesn't emit carbon the way that coal and oil do. We're also starting to see competition over water -- people who need it to drink or to water their crops are less than amused to see it being used to make electricity. (There are some ways around that, but they require, ironically, energy.)

I sure do hope we get rain next Spring and Summer.

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