Continued improvement in hydrological conditions helped Idacorp lift its performance in 2008, and the US utility estimates potentially higher outputs this year

Idacorp generated 6900GWh of electricity from its hydro power assets last year in the state of Idaho, which was an increase of 11.3% over the 2007 level of 6200GWh. The output level was very close to the final guidance given in the fourth quarter, when giving the Q3 results.

Towards the end of 2008, Idacorp repeated its forecast that full year hydro power generation would be approximately 7000GWh. Better river flow estimates enabled greater confidence in the forecast, which narrowed from the early range of 6500GWh-7500GWh to the tighter 6700GWh-7200GWh.

The initial forecast for hydro power generation in 2009 is, however, an even wider range of outputs, between 6500GWh-8500GWh. The estimate is based on the 2008-9 snowpack at Snake River Basin, which in February was 77% of average levels. At the same time, reservoir levels were approximately 10% higher than normal, the utility reported.

Poor snowpack was noted early in 2007, which highlighted to the utility that it may not have hydro output levels as high as the previous year. This year’s snowpack is an improvement on last time but is a big step closer to recovery towards 2006 production levels.