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Economic Feasibility Assessment of Winter Cloud Seeding in the Boise River Drainage, Idaho

Don A Griffith, Mark E Solak

Abstract


The Boise River Drainage, located in Central Idaho, is productive in terms of annual streamflow, a large majority of which is derived from accumulated winter snow pack. There are three dams in the upper river: Anderson Ranch, Arrowrock and Lucky Peak. Capacities of the three reservoirs are: 413,000, 272,000 and 306,000 acre feet, respectively. Both Anderson Ranch and Lucky Peak have hydroelectric production capabilities. Lucky Peak is located below the first two dams. North American Weather Consultants, Inc. conducted winter cloud seeding programs over the Boise River Drainage above Lucky Peak Reservoir during the water years of 1993-1996. A target/control analysis of these four seasons of seeding indicated an average increase in target area April 1st snow water content of 12% (an average additional 2.50" of snow water content per season). Additional analyses were performed to estimate the potential economic benefit that might be derived from the seeding program based upon the value of the estimated increased hydro-power production from Lucky Peak Dam. Lucky Peak has an installed turbine capacity of 100 MW. It was estimated that a 12% increase in April 1st snow water content would result in an average 16,409 MWh of additional electricity production per year. This amount of additional electricity was estimated to have a value of $820,182. The average annual cost of the cloud seeding program during the four seasons of operations was $85,000. These values result in an average estimated benefit/cost ratio of 9.7/1. This analysis does not consider the value of the additional electricity produced from the Anderson Ranch Dam, which is a Bureau of Reclamation facility, or the value of the enhanced streamflow to irrigation interests downstream of the Lucky Peak Dam.

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