FERC rejects third permit for 500-MW California pumped storage project

Saying that not enough had been done to justify a rarely-issued third preliminary permit, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on June 24 rejected an application on a third permit for an up-to-500-MW hydro project in California.

In July 2013, the San Diego County Water Authority filed for a third preliminary permit so it could continue to study the feasibility of the San Vicente Pumped Storage Project, to be located at the existing San Vicente dam and reservoir on San Vicente Creek in San Diego County, Calif. The permit allows a period of exclusivity for project feasibility work, with a license application then needed if the decision is to advance the project further.

The proposed project would consist of: the existing 337-foot-high San Vicente dam and 8,070 acre-foot reservoir, which would serve as the lower reservoir for the pumped storage project; and one of three alternative sites for the upper reservoir. Depending on the alternative selected, the potential power from the project would range between 240 MW and 500 MW.

In March 2007, commission staff issued the Authority a three-year preliminary permit that expired in February 2010. In July 2010, commission staff issued the Authority a three-year successive preliminary permit that expired on June 30, 2013.

“The Authority’s July 1, 2013 permit application did not include any information to demonstrate an extraordinary circumstance or factor outside the Authority’s control,” said FERC’s June 23 decision. “To the contrary, a review of the record indicates that each of the Authority’s progress reports under its successive preliminary permit are general in nature and are often related to the Authority’s actions to raise the existing San Vicente dam for water supply purposes. With the exception of cultural resources and endangered species surveys required by the Corps of Engineers’ Section 404 permit authorizing the San Vicente dam raise, there is no evidence of studies performed or agency consultation aimed at advancing the project’s development. Therefore, its application for a third preliminary permit is denied.”

Any party may file a request for rehearing of this order within 30 days of the date of its issuance.

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.