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Lake Oroville Hydro Power Plant That Can Serve Up To 800,000 Homes Goes Offline Due To Drought

OROVILLE (CBS13) — Due to falling levels at Lake Oroville, one of California's largest reservoirs, a hydroelectric power plant that can serve up to 800,000 homes has been taken offline as extreme drought conditions continue to impact the state.

This is the first time the power plant has been taken offline due to a drought. Karla Nemeth, the director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), made the announcement in a statement Thursday, which read in part:

"DWR anticipated this moment, and the state has planned for its loss in both water and grid management. We have been in regular communication about the status of Hyatt Powerplant with the California Independent Service Operator (CAISO) and the California Energy Commission and steps have been taken in anticipation of the loss of power generation."

The water in Lake Oroville is pumped through underground facilities to generate electricity, which can power up to 800,000 homes when it's running at full capacity. The Hyatt power plant is the fourth largest hydroelectric energy producer statewide.

"DWR will continue to focus on reservoir operations and water storage management at Lake Oroville to preserve as much water in storage as possible. DWR will use the River Valve Outlet System to release some water from the base of Oroville Dam to maintain river temperature requirements and outflows to the Feather River," Nemeth said.

State officials and experts have been predicting all summer that the power plant would be taken offline by August. California has already experienced extremely dry conditions and severe heatwaves several times this year, putting strain on the state's power grid amid another brutal fire season.

"Falling reservoir levels are another example of why it is so critical that all Californians conserve water. We are calling on everyone to take action now to reduce water use by 15 percent, to preserve as much water supply in storage as possible should we experience another dry year. We are all in this together," Nemeth said.

The DWR also said it is delivering 5% of requested water supplies to State Water Project contractors to provide water for agricultural and urban use. Storage at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County is being used to meet these deliveries. The DWR said these deliveries are expected to have little impact on the amount of water released or stored at Lake Oroville.

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