Problems in the water-energy nexus are enormously complex. The continuing drought in California highlights the challenges and interconnections between water and energy. The Wall Street Journal highlighted this in a recent article.“More than half of California is classified as being in a state of extreme drought, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Recent storms have brought some snow to parched slopes – including Tahoe’s – but they come very late: California’s snowpack is just 10% of normal levels, according to Citigroup. The problem extends up the coast, with the Northwest River Forecast Center earlier this month reporting lower-than-normal precipitation in the region this season.
This matters because almost half of U.S. hydroelectric lies in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. California, the country’s second-largest electricity market after Texas, got 17% of its power this way in the decade ending 2012.So if rivers are low, the state has a problem – even more so when other sources of energy are stressed as well.”
Extreme winter weather and constraints in the water-energy nexus forced natural gas prices entering California up to $15 a million BTUs in late January from $4.19 at the end of 2013. From the Wall Street Journal article:“Adding to this is the fierce cold and snow battering New York a host of other places across the U.S. Natural-gas-fired power plants make up more than 60% of California’s capacity, so these take the strain when the rivers run dry. The problem is when the rest of the country needs gas for heat, supplies can be constrained.”