Computer model may help chart NID’s growth |

Computer model may help chart NID’s growth

A new computer model could plot the growth of the Nevada Irrigation District’s hydroelectric power system, which the water agency shares with PG&E.

Looking to save money and time, the Nevada Irrigation District and PG&E spoke Monday about making such a model to streamline the massive federal relicensing process that must be completed by 2013.

The simultaneous relicensing could begin with the building of a computer model which shows where NID and PG&E’s water runs and what it powers and supplies. That model would be used to project the future of the facilities and if they would need to be expanded.

The system makes up the Yuba-Bear Power Project that NID and PG&E built together and completed in 1996. NID generates power and sells it to PG&E from seven different power stations in the system.

There are 12 dams and powerhouses that intertwine in the complex system on the Yuba and Bear River watersheds. NID sold $7 million worth of hydroelectric power last year, making up 23 percent of the district’s $30 million intake in 2004.

According to Kevin Goishi, PG&E’s hydro generation manager, the model would allow the entities to find how the can maximize output and look at the future to answer the question, “Are you going to add or upgrade and change powerhouses and reservoirs?”

NID and PG&E may share consultants in the process to keep costs down, which NID has predicted will cost $10 million. About $6 million has already been set aside.

The computer model will also be able to let officials track a drop of water from Jackson Meadows Reservoir to the valley, Goishi said, and alert officials to mistakes that potentially could dry up reservoirs.

Currently, NID has “plumbing laid out 100 years ago and contracts that go back to 80 years ago,” said NID General Manager Ron Nelson. The computer model will tell how all that can coexist, given yearly fluctuations of water flow.

“It would let you figure out where you’re going with your project,” said Steve Nevares, a relicensing project manager with PG&E.

NID will look at the proposal harder next month in committee and regular board meetings.

In other news, NID Operations Manager Don Wight announced Monday that recent rains have assured a good water year for the district and its customers. Snowpack readings were higher than normal at the beginning of the month, and the rain has backfilled reservoirs.

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