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Extreme drought and lower water levels are putting strain on hydropower production

Hoover Dam
Will Stone/KJZZ
file | staff
Hoover Dam.

Severe drought across the Southwest causes strains on power, as water levels reduce hydropower production.

The drop in water levels at Lake Mead caused production to drop by 25% at Hoover Dam alone.

And Lake Powell’s water levels could drop so low, there is a chance it will stop producing power in 2023.

A federal forecast expects hydropower generation to drop 14-percent this year compared to 2020.

The problem is hydropower is a flexible renewable energy source that can fill the gaps between wind and solar power.

This is leading to expected rises in natural gas and coal power generation in the years to come, resulting in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

While the Pacific Northwest winters often have enough rain to recover, but this year’s extreme heat and less rain could hurt the ability to bounce back.

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.