Developer seeks extra time on 1,000-MW California pumped storage hydro project

The market in California has made substantial progress towards creating long-term procurement demand for bulk energy storage, justifying a successive preliminary permit for the Bison Peak pumped storage hydro project in Kern County, said the project developer in a Dec. 31 permit application filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Since the issuance of the original preliminary permit, Bison Peak Pumped Storage LLC said it has made significant optimization and refinement to the project design and strategy. “Our development team has had ongoing agency interaction, and has participated heavily in the California regulatory processes to assist in creating a market for bulk energy storage. Based on our substantial efforts to date, as well as the positive movements in California policy and regulation, we are confident that this project will succeed if granted the requested successive preliminary permit which gives it some additional time to continue to the development work.

“Receiving this permit is critical in order to complete the next planned technical, permitting, financial, and procurement related tasks prior to construction according to schedule. We strongly believe this project will assist California in its ability to cost-effectively achieve the ambitious emissions reductions goals, by facilitating large quantities of variable renewables. Furthermore, this strategically located project is capable of supplying the State’s need for low carbon, fast ramping flexible capacity.”

A preliminary permit allows an exclusive period for project feasibility work, with a license application the next step if the feasibility work proves out.

The Bison Peak Pumped Storage Project will be a closed-loop system consisting of two artificial, lined reservoirs created by the construction of embankments and joined by aboveground penstocks. Three alternatives (termed “West,” “South,” and “East”) exist for the placement of the lower reservoir. Equipment in either the West or South Alternative will tentatively consist of four 250-MW reversible pump-turbines, totaling 1,000 MW of capacity. Annual energy production in either the West or South Alternatives is projected to be approximately 2,190,000 MWh. Equipment in the East will consist of three 250-MW reversible pump-turbines, totaling 750 MW. Annual energy production in the East Alternative is projected to be approximately 1,642,500 MWh.

The project developer plans to interconnect to the grid at one of three nearby sites, including the Whirlwind or Windhub substations, both which were recently constructed as a part of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project. The third alternative is to construct a new substation or switchyard at the nearby transmission Path 26. Other possible points of interconnection at 230 kV exist nearby a trecently constructed wind farms, and will be considered.

Water for the initial fill may be obtained from one or more of the local water districts or agencies that the applicant has consulted. The company said it will continue to evaluate the feasibility of utilizing reclaimed water from local wastewater treatment plants.

“Bison Peak Pumped Storage is a closed-loop project strategically located adjacent to major extra high voltage (EHV) transmission, tightly coupled to Southern California, the LA Basin and Central California,” said the application. “The Project will operate to provide 1,000 MW of proven, fast response, flexible generation or load to effectively integrate the energy mix with low carbon energy andcapacity. The project is located in one of the richest and most developed wind and solar energy regions in the country. With up to 9,000 MWh of storage capacity, the project will be able to firm, shape, and raise the value of nearby wind and solar variable energy generation.”

A project contact is: Mario Lucchese, Bison Peak Pumped Storage LLC, (818) 767-5552,

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.