“The torrents of water pounding through the Missouri River’s six dams are generating surplus electricity for utilities across the upper Great Plains, but ratepayers can mostly forget about seeing any benefit on their monthly bills.
“Utility officials say power prices already are low, and the federal agency that markets the electricity has to make up losses from years of drought.
“From a long-term standpoint, this will help us, but right now the (electric power) market is depressed,” said Vic Simmons, general manager of Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative in Rapid City, S.D.
“Electric demand is “probably at the lowest part of the year right now,” Simmons said. “There’s no grain drying, there’s no irrigation, there’s no air conditioning going yet.”
“Heavy spring rains in western states and a mammoth Rocky Mountain snowpack have set up the Missouri River for a summer of flooding, with temporary levees being thrown up and permanent dikes checked along the river’s length.
“Enough water is powering through the dam to meet Bismarck’s normal summer water needs for nearly a week in a single minute. Of more interest to utilities, the water flowing across all six dams will produce about 14 billion kilowatt-hours of power this year. That’s 40 percent greater than the dams’ normal output, and enough to supply almost 1.3 million homes for a year.”
Read more: Washington Post