Puget Sound says snow pack looking good for Baker hydro generation

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) said March 7 that the snow pack levels that contribute to hydroelectric power generated by its Baker units in Washington State are looking far better than the “dire” situation of one year ago.

This is the area which feeds into PSE’s reservoirs and two dams along the Whatcom-Skagit county border, PSE said in a news release.

“In December, the snow water equivalent was 105 percent of normal,” said John Chandler is the technical lead of water resources in the Hydro and Wind Resources group. “It dropped to 96 percent, and then to 90 percent in February. Two weeks ago, it was 75 percent,” said Chandler, who keeps careful watch on the figures coming in from the Cascades.

Baker is in better shape now than this time last year. That’s when PSE saw levels between 22% to 26% of normal, and statewide totals were, on average, about 39% of what they should normally be. There were some places last March around Baker at 3,500 feet where there was no snow at all; those spots typically have 90 to 100 inches, PSE said in the news release.

Around the state of Washington, snow pack levels are generally near normal right now. The Upper Columbia basin remains ahead of the curve with readings closer to 133% of normal.

Where PSE’s hydro comes from can vary from year to year. For 2014, the Baker dams [Upper and Lower Baker] provided about 17% of PSE’s owned and contracted hydroelectricity. For just PSE’s company-owned hydro facilities, Baker is right around 80% of production.  

Around the state, snow pack levels are generally near normal right now. The Upper Columbia basin remains ahead of the curve with readings closer to 133% of normal, PSE said in the news release.

Where the PSE’s hydro comes from can vary from year to year. For 2014, the Baker dams provided about 17% of PSE’s owned and contracted hydroelectricity. For just PSE’s company-owned hydro facilities, Baker is an estimated 80% of production. 

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.