New study: California drought increased electricity bills and air pollution
It increased electricity bills statewide by $2.45 billion and boosted levels of smog and greenhouse gases, according to a new study released Wednesday.
“The drought has cost us in ways we didn’t necessarily anticipate or think about.
From 1983 to 2013, an average of 18 percent of California’s in-state electricity generation came from hydroelectric power.
In the driest year, 2015, hydroelectric power made up just 7 percent of the electricity generated in California.
Although solar and wind power increased during the drought years, grid operators and other power managers still needed to boost electricity from natural gas-fired power plants.
He noted that in other dry years, hydroelectric power decreases and it has to be made up with other types of electricity.
The overall cost in higher power bills, $2.45 billion over five years, works out to be about $12 per person in California per year, or $60 during the entire drought, he said.
Ominously, 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded in California since modern temperature records were first taken in the late 1800s.
Then that record for statewide average temperature was broken in 2015.
Natural gas generated 60 percent, nuclear power 9 percent, hydroelectric power 7 percent and coal and other sources 1 percent.