Apr 26, 2017

California’s drought is over, but we’re still toting up the costs

California
USA
by
Dale Kasler
,
Sacramento Bee
It's been quite a wet season in Sacramento. The National Weather Service Sacramento forecasters have compiled some stats showing just how rainy it was this water year. Photo: David Caraccio
It's been quite a wet season in Sacramento. The National Weather Service Sacramento forecasters have compiled some stats showing just how rainy it was this water year. Photo: David Caraccio

Californians paid for the drought in many ways. Homeowners saw their water rates rise. Farmers sacrificed revenue when they idled fields.

And practically everyone spent more on electricity.

Californians’ electricity costs jumped by a combined $2.45 billion from 2012 to 2016 because of severe shortages of cheap hydroelectricity, according to an estimate released Wednesday by the Pacific Institute, an Oakland water policy think tank.

The impact on bills wasn’t enormous in the scheme of things: Last year alone Californians spent almost $39 billion on electricity, according to federal data.

Nonetheless, the hydro shortage was one of the little-known effects of the just-concluded drought, said the study’s author and institute’s president emeritus, Peter Gleick.