Chum Salmon Operations, La Nina Bullish for 2020 BPA Hydro

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The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Columbia River System is most known for marketing the power in one of the world’s largest hydroelectric systems, but that’s not all.

Since the passage of the 1980 Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Act, BPA is responsible for supporting fish and wildlife conservation programs. In early October water levels are near average, but water levels surge as BPA moves water out of the Grand Coulee Dam to support salmon spawning further down the Columbia River the first week of November. Enverus Power Intelligence Columbia River Forecast shows hydro-generation will rise between 2,000-3,000 megawatts as a result of rising water levels.

BPA Columbia River Hydro-Generation to Sustain High Levels Through December

Chum salmon spawning grounds will be high and dry for much of October but will be flooded once water moves out of Grand Coulee Dam along the river to below the Bonneville Dam in early November. This operation will continue through December – and allow these fish to spawn.

Every November dating back to 2000, the BPA and other federal agencies increase Columbia River water levels below Bonneville Dam to ensure the nests where female Chum deposit their eggs remain covered by water. This requires releasing water from reservoirs as far away as Hungry Horse and Libby dams in Montana, more than 850 river-miles upriver from Bonneville Dam.

In addition, La Nina conditions are expected this fall and into the winter. La Nina brings above average precipitation into the N.W. which results in above average hydro-generation through the winter and into the spring.

Dig Deeper into Enverus’ PRT Pacific N.W. Hydrogeneration Daily Forecasts

The information and analysis the Enverus Trading & Risk Team produces on hydro-generation and the ever-changing Columbia River is available via the PRT Pacific N.W. Hydrogeneration daily report.

PRT Power Analytics’ hydro-generation report is unique in its offerings – nobody in the market does hydro better as I do, after all I worked at BPA as a hydro-generation planner. Sign up for a free trial and see the difference for yourself.

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Rob Allerman
Rob Allerman is Senior Director of Power Analytics at Enverus. Before joining Enverus, Rob was Head of North America Power Analytics at EDF Power Trading in Houston, Texas, and spent many years as a power analyst at Deutsche Bank. Rob also worked in the western U.S. for nearly 10 years at Power Utilities and started his career as a Hydrologist for the Federal Government.