City of San Diego does joint deal on pumped storage hydro project

The San Diego County Water Authority has settled issues with the City of San Diego over the proposed San Vicente Pumped Storage Project, so the authority on April 7 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to disregard the city’s protest over a preliminary permit application for the 500-MW project and to accept a new, joint preliminary permit application.

In October 2014, the authority applied for this permit, which would allow three years of exclusivity to explore project feasibility, with the goal of an eventual license application. The authority and the city both hold property interests necessary to develop the project and now intend to be co-licensees on the project license.

The project is to be located at the San Vicente reservoir in Lakeside, California. The existing San Vicente reservoir would be the lower reservoir for this project, with four options being considered for the upper reservoir. Each option involves a powerhouse containing two 250-MW vertical Francis variable speed reversible pump/turbine-motor/generator units. The project would interconnect to San Diego Gas and Electric’s 500-kV Sunrise Powerlink system.

For a 500-MW conceptual development, the proposed project configuration would have the upper reservoir connected to an underground powerhouse via an up to 30-foot diameter, 800-foot deep, vertical shaft and power tunnel sloping down at an approximate 7% grade. The power tunnel will bifurcate into two steel-lined penstocks, which will enter the powerhouse at each of the two pump-turbine units. From the powerhouse, the draft tubes from each unit (with an approximate length of 300 feet) will manifold into one tailrace tunnel, which will extend underground at approximately 7.8% grade to the San Vicente Reservoir. 

The authority’s first pumped storage project was Olivenhain/Hodges. This project is located in the vicinity of the northern end of the City of San Diego, within San Diego County. The 40-MW Olivenhain/Hodges Pumped Storage Project has been operational since 2012. The authority’s second pumped storage project and city’s first pumped storage project would be this new one.

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.