The EIA flagged that as of April 1, California’s snowpack was about 40% below the median value from 1991 through 2020. That is significant because it means less snow will melt and flow into the state’s reservoirs this spring.
Under the EIA’s drought scenario forecast, which is part of the agency’s Short Term Energy Outlook released last month, hydropower would make up just 8% of California’s total power generation. That’s down from 15% under normal water conditions.
“This shortfall would need to be made up from other sources of electric power supply,” the EIA said.
That will translate to higher prices and more planet-warming carbon emissions.
The EIA estimates that in a drought scenario, wholesale power prices in western US electricity markets will be 5% higher and carbon dioxide emissions in California will be 6% higher than under normal conditions.
All of this means the drought, which is being caused by the climate crisis, threatens to worsen both the climate crisis and the inflation crisis raising costs on families.
NERC has warned several parts of the US are at risk of energy emergencies this summer, including Texas. Energy experts have told CNN that some power grid operators are not taking climate change into account in their planning, making the grid more vulnerable.