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Regulators warned about the perils of hydro divestiture

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) recently called on state regulators to think carefully before agreeing to allow the ownership and control of the state’s hydroelectric projects to fall into the hands of profit-orientated, unregulated companies in the US.

ACWA called on the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to open an investigation into the future ownership of the state’s hydro projects in the newly deregulated energy market, particularly as PUC considers a proposal from the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) on what to do with its hydroelectric facilities. Most of California’s water supplies flow through PG&E’s hydro projects. PG&E currently controls 68 powerhouses in 16 river basins in the state, regulating flows in 30 rivers and major streams and operating 163 reservoirs stretching from Bakersfield to the Oregon order. ACWA says a change in management of these projects or in the land surrounding them could degrade water quality for drinking water and for the environment.

The demands of a market-driven business could threaten the flood-control needs of downstream communities.