The largest factor in river levels is the amount of water discharged from upstream storage/generating hydroelectric projects. May and June are historically the highest flow months due to snowmelt and runoff. Another factor is the level of the water directly above the dam. The range that the PUD maintains the level directly above the dam is limited by its federal license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In addition, Chelan PUD’s projects have very limited storage capacity.
Local customers’ energy usage also impacts river levels. Wholesale energy sales do impact river levels, but these sales are only one factor. The sales into the wholesale market help subsidize local customers’ rates to keep them low. In fact, Chelan PUD has some of the lowest energy rates in the U.S. It’s about balancing the needs of energy sales, along with fish protection and recreation.