California’s Drought Is So Bad, Even Its Hydropower Is Drying Up

California’s ability to produce renewable energy from hydroelectric dams has been significantly hampered over the last few years because of an increasingly severe and widespread drought, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday.

The drought, which began in 2011 and is now covering 100 percent of the state, is drying up the reservoirs behind hydroelectric dams. The reservoirs create power when the force of the water in them is released onto turbines. When there is less water, there is also less pressure to spin those turbines, thereby decreasing the amount of renewable electricity that can be produced.

Hydroelectric power used to account for 20 percent of California’s in-state electricity generation for the first six months of each year from 2004 until 2013, the EIA said. But during the first six months of 2014, hydropower generation was halved, making up only 10 percent of California’s in-state electricity generation.

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