California hydroelectric plant expected to shut down for the first time in 50 years

A crucial hydroelectric plant in California is expected to shut down for the first time in 50 years as water levels in the area continue to decrease. 

Officials on Thursday said the ongoing drought in the Western U.S. as well as high temperatures have severely depleted the water levels at the Edward Hyatt Power Plant at Lake Oroville, Calif., CNN reported. The water levels are hovering around 700 feet above sea level.

The power plant was first opened in 1967.


If the level continues to drop at its current rate, the plant will have to shut down in about two to three months, a time frame that coincides with the peak of wildfire season, CNN noted.

"If lake levels fall below those elevations later this summer, DWR will, for the first time, cease generation at the Hyatt power plant due to lack of sufficient water to turn the plant's electrical generation turbines," Liza Whitmore, public information officer for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), said.

Lake Oroville is California's second largest reservoir and generates enough electricity to power up to 800,000 homes at full capacity.

In response to the intense heat wave California, Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomAppeals court blocks California vaccine mandate for prison workers Apple, Nordstrom stores hit in latest smash-and-grab robberies Ted Cruz ribs Newsom over vacation in Mexico: 'Cancun is much nicer than Cabo' MORE (D) signed an emergency proclamation that suspends permitting requirements and frees up the state's back-up power generators.

The heat wave that has currently taken over much of the West has been described as "dangerous and record-breaking," by the National Weather Service and is affecting more than 50 million Americans.

“A few monthly and even all-time records have already been tied/broken this week associated with the current stretch of heat,” the agency said this week.

California residents have been asked to reduce their power usage, particularly in the evenings, in order to avoid rolling blackouts and damaged power lines, CNN reports. Earlier this month, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) asked residents to join him in a "weekend of prayer" for rain amid the ongoing drought.

“By praying collaboratively and collectively, asking God or whatever higher power you believe in for more rain, we may be able to escape the deadliest aspects of the continuing drought,” he said.