Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) recently announced that Lake Almanor and Bucks Lake are anticipated to be at higher than normal levels due to above-average precipitation in the early spring and last year’s abundant snowmelt.
PG&E announced the lake level projections at the 2105 Lake Level Committee meeting in Chester, which is held in most years to review and discuss PG&E’s planned water operations for Lake Almanor and Bucks Lake for the remainder of the year. The committee name refers to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) project No. 2105, which is the license number for PG&E’s Upper North Fork Feather River hydroelectric project.
Gary Freeman, managing hydrologist for PG&E’s power generation department, stated at the meeting that PG&E controls lake levels and planned operations to balance recreation, the environment, generation and other needs.
Total precipitation to date in the Lake Almanor Basin is less than last year and is currently at 76 percent of normal, Freeman reported. PG&E anticipates that overall inflow projections are 71 percent of normal, which is less than last year’s 117 percent of normal.
Last year, Northern California experienced a large late season snowpack with an unusually cool spring that significantly delayed the snowmelt, which kept lake levels much higher than historical averages. PG&E also performed planned maintenance outages at both Rock Creek and Poe powerhouses in late fall, which meant less water was released from Lake Almanor for power generation. Consequently lake levels never got below 4,485 feet last summer and fall.
This year, based on current data, a moderate summer electrical demand and historical modeling, PG&E projects that summer lake levels will be lower than last year, reaching approximately 4,492 feet elevation by July 4 and approximately 4,486 feet by Labor Day.
For Bucks Lake, based on current data, a moderate summer electric demand, and historical modeling, lake levels will be above historical averages but lower than last year, reaching approximately 5,156 feet elevation by July 4 and approximately 5,146 by Labor Day.
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