The record-breaking drought that has recently prompted California governor Jerry Brown to mandate a 25 percent reduction in water use has significant implications for natural gas demand.
According to the Pacific Institute, an internationally-renowned independent think tank focused on water issues, the drought has reduced the flow of rivers and thus the ability of these rivers to source hydropower electricity plants.
“This severe drought has many negative consequences. One of them that receives little attention is how the drought has fundamentally changed the way our electricity is produced,” said Peter Gleick, the author of the report and president of Pacific Institute.
On average, hydropower provides 18 percent of California’s electricity generation. However, during the three year drought period, it has comprised only 12 percent, and the void is filled with shifting plants from hydropower to natural gas, according to the report.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California is the second largest state consumer of natural gas. In 2013, California consumed 2.41 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, second only to Texas (4.02 Tcf).
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