California’s drought is over, but we’re still toting up the costs
Californians paid for the drought in many ways.
The impact on bills wasn’t enormous in the scheme of things: Last year alone Californians spent almost $39 billion on electricity, according to federal data.
Carbon emissions from the state’s power plants rose by 10 percent during the drought as utilities shifted to conventional sources like natural gas, the study said.
Although state officials say utilities are making progress toward meeting California’s mandates on reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable power sources, Gleick said the hydro shortage represented a temporary setback.
That created cost impacts.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. raised rates 1.5 percent in 2014 to reflect the lack of hydro.
Roseville Electric, the city-owned utility, imposed a 2 percent drought surcharge in 2014.
PG&E’s rate increase for this year, which reflects last year’s costs, was dialed back to 0.25 percent.
Officials with the utilities said the changes reflect a return to normal or near-normal conditions at their hydro plants.
For instance, SMUD’s system of reservoirs and power plants on the American River has generated twice as much power this year as it did in all of 2015, said SMUD spokesman Chris Capra.