Hydro-electric power is keeping you cool this summer


The sight of whitewater cascading out of flood gates at Pine Flat Dam hasn't been seen in five years. This is where the mighty Kings River picks up momentum. Those who fish the kings say it will be a good year. They also know the heavy snowmelt is good for producing hydro-electricity at the Pine Flat Power Plant.

"They're spinning all those turbines as fast as they can but they can only put so much water through them," said Hank Urbach. "The rest of it is used by farmers and everybody else."

PG&E calls hydropower a cleaner way of producing electricity. Electricity produced at Pine Flat and other local hydro plants goes to the state power grid.

Jeff Smith said, "It's going to benefit our customers as well because the cost that's associated with cooling our homes, for example, during the summer months is not going to be as high as it would be if we have to go out and purchase that energy on the open market."

This is what it looks like inside the Helms Power Plant between Courtright and Wishon Reservoirs. It is PG&E'S biggest hydroelectric project. The Bureau of Reclamation says power companies look to maximize operations while avoiding "spill."

"Spill to them is water that doesn't run through the turbine," said Michael Jackson. "If it doesn't run through the turbine it doesn't produce power and there's less for customers to take advantage of."

PG&E says the hydro-electricity produced will help the company meet peak demand this summer.

Back in April California's snowpack was 163% of normal so the turbines at local hydro-plants could be spinning through late summer.

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