BC Hydro forecasting normal reservoir operations
Despite reduced reservoir inflows in spring and early summer 2019, BC Hydro is forecasting normal operating conditions at most of its reservoirs across the fall and winter.
Warm, dry weather and a below average snowpack in the spring of 2019 resulted in low inflows and some BC Hydro reservoirs did not refill to normal levels as they typically do in late spring. However, average rain and water inflows over the summer and early fall have returned most reservoirs to typical operating levels.
BC Hydro depends upon its two largest reservoirs – Williston in the Peace region and Kinbasket in the Columbia – to ensure a reliable supply of low-cost energy to meet the province’s electricity needs during the winter months when demand is highest.
The Kinbasket Reservoir is expected to operate at near average seasonal levels during the fall and winter, and Williston Reservoir is expected to be at levels similar to, or greater, than those observed across last winter and early spring.
The size of a reservoir determines how it responds to weather changes. For example, fall and winter storms can quickly refill BC Hydro’s smaller reservoirs on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland. For these systems, BC Hydro carefully monitors winter storms to ensure it provides advance notice of any increased risk of flooding for downstream areas.
In April 2019, BC Hydro released a report titled Generational challenge: How B.C.’s generation system is adapting to extreme weather and unforeseen events that looked at the impact the unusual dry summer weather in 2018 and the Enbridge pipeline explosion in fall 2018 had on its system, and how it was managing its system given these challenges.
BC Hydro does not expect this winter to be as challenging as last winter, however, weather patterns can shift and situations can change quickly, depending on the size of the reservoir.
Lead image: Mica Dam, Kinbasket Reservoir. e-KNOW file photo