Abnormally Dry Season Causes Canada to Import More Power From U.S.

In the evening, electricity workers and pylon silhouette

The United States has experienced a significant increase in electricity exports to Canada, reaching its highest point since at least 2010. This growth is due to the increasing global demand for energy and the challenges faced by the supply of power, such as Canada’s hydroelectric dams. 

Canadian hydroelectric plants are expected to recover from decreased production due to recent declines in rainfall and snowfall, but concerns remain about the impact of climate change on the predictability of rainfall and snowfall.

The US and Canada have a longstanding mutual dependence due to their differing power usage patterns. Canadians rely heavily on electric heaters during winter, while Americans experience surges in electricity consumption during summer due to air-conditioning systems. Canada’s hydroelectric power plays a crucial role in trade, offering affordable and renewable energy to various states. However, the dynamics of energy supply and demand are transforming, with electricity consumption increasing in several states during both the summer and winter seasons.

Utilities are becoming more dependent on unpredictable sources like solar and wind power, and large hydroelectric plants face challenges due to depleted reservoirs in California, near Hoover Dam, and, more recently, in Canada. 

The Biden administration and several states are actively pursuing expanding the network of power lines as a potential solution. Energy experts recommend increasing connections between the US and Canada, such as solar farms in California providing electricity during low water levels and Canadian utilities sending excess power down south.

The Robert-Bourassa hydroelectric dam, located in northern Quebec, is part of a network of stations that can generate over twice the amount of electricity produced by the most significant U.S. power station–Washington State’s Grand Coulee Dam, which sits on the Columbia River. The Robert Bourassa complex has played a substantial role in Hydro-Québec’s success as a major supplier to New York State and New England. Due to lower-than-average snowfall, Hydro-Québec and other Canadian utilities have had to increase their power imports from the United States in recent months.

The dry spell is expected to come to an end soon, with models predicting a 6 to 8 percent increase in precipitation for eastern Canada over the next 25 years.