THE SNOWPACK IN CALIFORNIA’S Sierra mountains is deeper than normal, with the result that California could generate more affordable hydroelectric power this year than the drought-affected 2001.

Last year’s electricity crisis was made worse for many utilities because of the low snowpack, which crimped the supply of hydroelectric power. This year reservoirs are expected to be full.

The snowpack in the American river watershed of El Dorado County – which feeds Folsom dam – is about 175% of normal for this time of year, according to measurements taken in January 2002 by the Department of Water Resources.

In all, about 60% of the water consumed in the state comes from melting snow in the Sierra.