Developers outline plans, issues for California pumped storage projects

EDF Renewable Energy was one of the project developers to outline plans for a pumped storage hydro project at a Jan. 16 California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) workshop on this form of energy storage.

Pumped storage is the most proven and large-scale form of energy storage on the market, and can be used to even out the variable contributions of wind and solar to the grid.

“California has substantial needs for storage resources,” said the EDF slide presentation from the Jan. 16 workshop. “Pumped Storage provides benefits including grid scale storage + short and longer duration services that span the spectrum of ancillary services and characteristics needed for the grid.”

Among the challenges for pumped storage are that future projects require meaningful regulatory action from the CPUC and other agencies if its potential is to be realized, EDF noted.

EDF’s Swan Lake Pumped Storage Project, of about 600 MW in size (depending on system need), is located approximately 11 miles northeast of Klamath Falls, Ore. It would have access to the PacifiCorp and California ISO grid. Field work is being done for the project, EDF noted. A PacifiCorp Large Generation Interconnection Request was submitted in August 2013.

Other Jan. 16 presentations from developers included:

Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project

Eagle Crest Energy said this project in Riverside County, Calif., is construction ready in 2015 with substantial economic benefits to California. Eagle Mountain would be capable of providing 1,300 MW of flexible generation. Most local, state, and federal permits are in hand and the project is expected to be fully permitted in early 2014.

Eagle Crest cited a number of regulatory barriers to pumped storage hydro projects in general, including interconnection issues at the California ISO, and also CPUC and California Energy Commission policy on new power additions.

Bison Peak Pumped Storage

Alton Energy described its 1,000 MW+ Bison Peak project in Kern County, Calif. It noted that this project has a strategic location directly adjacent to about 8,000 MW of intermittent renewable generation.

Mulqueeney Pumped Storage Project

Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners described its 280-MW project, comprised of two 140-MW pump/generator units. It would be located at the Altamont Pass near City of Tracy, with an interconnect to the Tesla substation. The entire project is located on private land (called the Mulqueeney Ranch) to which Brookfield has secured development rights for 60 years.

Brookfield holds a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-issued preliminary permit providing development exclusivity. Water supply for the project for initial filling and top-up is expected to come from the City of Tracy wastewater treatment plant.

Iowa Hill Pumped Storage Project

An official of the Sacramento Public Utility District described the 400-MW Iowa Hill project, which would use an existing lower reservoir at Slab Creek and transmission lines. There would be a new upper reservoir. The estimated construction cost is $686m.

Iowa Hill is designed to support increasing variable resources required by renewable portfolio standard (RPS) regulation, keeping in mind constraints on alternative natural gas-fired flexible capacity in a carbon constrained regulatory environment, the district said. The project would help meet the district’s particularly aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goal of 90% below 1990 levels by 2050.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.