Despite recent rains, reservoirs on the Missouri River are dropping as drought persists and low water levels will translate to higher electric rates for some Iowans. The Western Area Power Administration is responsible for selling power from hydroelectric dams on the river and WAPA spokesman Randy Wilkerson says they’re watching water levels carefully.

“Right now, we know that water levels in the reservoirs are low and we’re anticipating less than normal generation over the winter and into the coming year,” Wilkerson says. The agency delivers power to several rural electric co-ops and municipalities in Iowa and in 14 other states.

Wilkerson says WAPA easily met its power projections during last year’s historic flooding on the Missouri. “Everybody had more than enough water and we had excess generation that we could actually sell on the open market,” he says.

“This year, if we have less than normal generation, we’ll have to be out on the open market purchasing some power in order to make up our contracts.” Wilkerson says while WAPA will meet its power contract obligations, they will likely come at an added cost.

“It gets built into the rates somewhere along the line,” he says. “We do have a drought adder that periodically takes a look at the rates and identifies how much costs are due to drought or low water levels, so absolutely, yes, ultimately, it gets built into the rates.”

Last year, WAPA delivered more than 42-billion kilowatt hours of electricity to its service areas.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton