Hydro Plan Proposed for San Diego County


A major new hydroelectric project could vie to fill the energy gap from the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant, according to an announcement Monday by the San Diego County Water Authority.

The water authority is assessing the potential for a pumped-water storage facility above the existing San Vicente Reservoir north of Lakeside, owned by the City of San Diego. Power would be generated during periods of high-electricity demand by allowing water to flow downhill to the recently expanded main reservoir, to be pumped back up during periods of lower electricity needs.

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The authority already operates a 40-megawatt pumped storage project connecting Hodges Reservoir and Olivenhain Reservoir, in which water falls 770 feet through a 1.25-mile pipeline.

At San Vicente, authorities are contemplating a much larger facility capable of producing as much as 500 megawatts of electricity in short bursts — enough to power about 325,000 homes.

With the announcement in early June of San Onofre’s permanent retirement, utility officials have pushed state regulators to authorize construction of a new, rapid-fire natural gas plant south of San Diego in unincorporated Otay Mesa.

San Diego Gas & Electric asserts that the Pio Pico Energy Center — a 300 megawatt, quick-start power plant — is needed to ensure reliable supplies as the state ramps up production of large-scale wind and solar plants, whose production fluctuates with the weather. A coalition of environmentalists and consumer advocates say SDG&E overstated the immediate need for new generators and shortchanged contributions of energy efficiency and other utility-run conservation programs paid for by customers.

The pumped storage project at San Vicente would rely on a new reservoir holding 10,000-acre-feet of water, located at a higher altitude. Four potential sites have been identified adjacent to the main reservoir or nearby.

The San Vicente Reservoir, by comparison, will hold up to 242,000 acre-feet of water when construction to expand the dam is completed later this year.

read more at: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jul/08/hydroelectric-replaces-nuclear-energy/all/?print

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