[Ok-sus] Fwd: Drought reduces water available for energy production, temporarily shuts down plants

Bob Waldrop bwaldrop1952 at att.net
Tue Sep 11 08:08:49 CDT 2012

Water will be as big an issue as petroleum not too far in the future.

Bob Waldrop, Oklahoma City

Drought reduces water available for energy production, temporarily shuts down plants

Water shortages due to drought and rising temperatures are stressing the energy industry, which accounts for at least 40 percent of water use in the United States.

Coal plants, nuclear reactors and hydroelectric dams are suffering the consequences of reduced access to water. Officials are struggling to mitigate current problems while preparing for future challenges.

"We're trying to manage a changing climate, its impact on water supplies and our ability to generate power, all at once," said Michael Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Interior Department's water management agency.

Managers shut down a nuclear reactor in Waterford, Conn., last month because water used to cool its equipment, pumped out of Long Island Sound, was too hot to do the job. One facility stopped operations when its water-intake pipes ended up on dry ground because of the drought. Another nuclear plant in Braidwood, Ill., was forced to get special permission to operate after temperatures in its cooling-water pond increased beyond the normal limit.

"If water levels dropped to the point where you can't draw water into the condenser, you'd have to shut down the plant," said Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Coal-fired power plants, water-intensive energy operations, are also at risk. The reduced water supply has some officials questioning whether the nation should continue to invest in coal.

Higher temperatures and decreased river flows have reduced hydroelectricity generation. The Hoover Dam, which produces energy for customers in Las Vegas, Southern California and Mexico, hasn't run at capacity since 1983 (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, Sept. 9). -- MBI

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