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NW River Forecast :Mica At 75%; Grand Coulee At 60%

LOS ANGELES (Dow Jones)--

Water available for hydroelectric generation at the Dalles Hydroelectric Dam on the Columbia River between January and July will likely be 53% of normal, according to the most recent forecast from the Northwest River Forecast Center.

Thursday's estimate is the same as the center forecast on May 8. The Northwest River Forecast Center's "May Mid-Month Update" forecast inflows to the Mica reservoir in British Columbia from April to September at 75% of normal, up 2 percentage points from the previous forecast. Water available for hydro generation at the Grand Coulee Dam for January through July is likely to be 60% of normal, the same as the May 8 forecast.

The center plans to publish its next, updated forecast May 31. Northwest U.S. hydroelectric turbines produce about 8,000 megawatts of power averaged over the course of a year, but can produce up to 25,000 megawatts of power at times of peak demand. The amount of water flowing on the Columbia and Snake rivers determines the amount of power that will actually be produced in the spring and summer.

The stream flows on those rivers are determined by the amount of snow accumulated during the winter in the Cascade Mountain range. The Northwest River Forecast Center bases its estimates on current snowpack in the mountains and then assumes normal snowfall for the balance of the winter.

The Dalles is a key measuring point because it is one of the last dams before the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, so it reflects water supplies througout the Columbia and Snake rivers system.

-By Jessica Berthold; Dow Jones Newswires; 323-658-3872; (END) DOW JONES NEWS 05-17-01 12:29 PM

-- PHO (, May 17, 2001

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