California power weakens as drought kills hydroelectric efficiency

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The state of California isn't doing so well. Even at the best of times, the lively US state is home to a battered power grid attempting to please almost 40-million people. However, as global warming continues to rear its ugly head, the state is in trouble.

California Drought

Reported by The Verge, the state of California is currently going through a mass drought. The uncomfortable heat is causing utility companies to close down power lines to avoid fires sparking across the state.

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However, most concerning is the utility cutoff combined with the state's increasing lack of water. The report states that a third of the state is experiencing “exceptional drought" with 40% of residents living in a state of emergency.

Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville are both below half capacity, a terrifying fact that leaves the state's two biggest water supplies almost useless. Folsom Lake has gotten so low that the remains of a crashed airplane from the 80s is now visible; Lake Mead is at its lowest capacity since the building of Hoover Dam.

The drought issue is having a massive effect on the population of California. Farmers can't feed their crops; residents are being urged to save up water. As for power, the state's hydroelectric power grid is becoming almost useless.

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Hydroelectric energy is failing

In the report, The Verge explains that hydroelectric power is a significant source of energy for California. Two years ago, hydropower accounted for 17% of the electricity grid, providing power for over six-and-a-half million people.

As the great lakes and reservoirs that turn the state's hydroelectric turbines grow dry, the state is in for a troublesome summer.

“California relies on hydro for so much of its demand, so any drought can put the state in a tight position,” US Energy Information Administration, Lindsay Aramayo told the outlet.

In response to the drought, the local government is purchasing more power to make up for the lower hydroelectric yield. However, the state has frequently replaced lost renewable energy with fossil fuels energy, perpetuating the cycle of global warming that's caused these droughts in the first place. 

“That’s a bad cycle, and we’d like to break that cycle, so that during droughts we’re making up our lost hydro power with other non-carbon [polluting] energy sources,” Peter Gleick, climate scientist and president emeritus of the Pacific Institute told them.

Thankfully, the huge heat is resulting in more solar energy. However, the solar infrastructure isn't as vast as the US' hydroelectric industry.

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