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  • Author or Editor: L. P. Graham x
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Nathalie Voisin
Alan F. Hamlet
L. Phil Graham
David W. Pierce
Tim P. Barnett
, and
Dennis P. Lettenmaier


The benefits of potential electric power transfers between the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and California (CA) are evaluated using a linked set of hydrologic, reservoir, and power demand simulation models for the Columbia River and the Sacramento–San Joaquin reservoir systems. The models provide a framework for evaluating climate-related variations and long-range predictability of regional electric power demand, hydropower production, and the benefits of potential electric power transfers between the PNW and CA. The period of analysis is 1917–2002. The study results show that hydropower production and regional electric power demands in the PNW and CA are out of phase seasonally but that hydropower productions in the PNW and CA have strongly covaried on an annual basis in recent decades. Winter electric power demand and spring and annual hydropower production in the PNW are related to both El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) through variations in winter climate. Summer power demand in CA is related primarily to variations in the PDO in spring. Hydropower production in CA, despite recent covariation with the PNW, is not strongly related to ENSO variability overall. Primarily because of strong variations in supply in the PNW, potential hydropower transfers between the PNW and CA in spring and summer are shown to be correlated to ENSO and PDO, and the conditional probability distributions of these transfers are therefore predictable with long lead times. Such electric power transfers are estimated to have potential average annual benefits of $136 and $79 million for CA and the PNW, respectively, at the year-2000 regional demand level. These benefits are on average 11%–27% larger during cold ENSO/PDO events and are 16%–30% lower during warm ENSO/PDO events. Power transfers from the PNW to CA and hydropower production in CA are comparable in magnitude, on average.

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