$1 B-plus San Vicente pumped hydro plan flows forward


With an estimated price tag that has been pegged between $1 billion and $2 billion, the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility will take a while to finalize. One key decision yet to be made is the price that the SDCWA will pay San Diego Gas & Electric for the energy it needs to pump up the holding water. The utility has initially declined to provide wholesale electricity prices for the project, according to one local report.

The water authority and the City of San Diego are joint permittees on a preliminary permit that has been issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow the agencies to pursue development of the reservoir.

The pumped hydro project would be able to provide eight hours of electricity to San Diego. The interconnection would require new transmission lines about five miles to the nearest SDG&E substation that would link to the 500-kV Sunrise Powerlink transmission line.

SDCWA already operates one large pumped hydro facility, the $1.5 billion Lake Hodges Pumped Storage Project. That facility can generate up to 40 MW moving water between Lake Hodges and the Olivenhain Reservoir. SDG&E provides electricity to the water authority for the Lake Hodges unit under a long-term “reduced rate” PPA.

SDCWA is no stranger to solar. The authority signed a 20 year PPA with Borrego Solar for the design and construction of three solar electric installations at SDCWA locations including the Kearney Mesa headquarters building.

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