FERC adds two years to permit for 500-MW pumped storage project in California

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 10 granted an Aug. 28 request from Nevada Hydro Co. Inc. for a two-year extension of its existing preliminary permit for the 500-MW Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project in California.

The original permit was issued in October 2012 and was due to expire on Sept. 30 of this year. The permit allows project feasibility work to be done ahead of any license application.

The proposed pumped storage project would be located on Lake Elsinore and San Juan Creek in the Cleveland National Forest in Riverside County, California. Nevada Hydro’s preliminary permit is for the same project the commission evaluated in a prior docket and described in the final environmental impact statement issued in that same docket. Because so much work has already been completed on evaluating the site, alternatives, and constructability of the project, Nevada Hydro’s main activities during the permit have been: consulting with resource agencies on studies that need to be updated or revised; preparing material required for the California State Water Resources Control Board; obtaining the interconnection agreements and financing; and working with the Cleveland National Forest on transmission routing, environmental, and process issues.

Said the Sept. 10 FERC order: “Upon review of the application for extension, as well as the progress reports submitted under the preliminary permit, Nevada Hydro has demonstrated that it has carried out activities under the permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence. Therefore, the request for extension of the preliminary permit term is granted. It is expected that during the remaining term of the permit, as extended, agency consultation will continue, studies will be updated, and a development application will be prepared.”

The project will be a 500-MW high-head advanced pumped storage facility. “The Project will be an important addition to the California grid, particularly due to its capabilities to provide spinning and other reserves, and other ancillary services,” said the Aug. 28 application for the permit extension. “These services will add materially to the ability of the system to receive, integrate and manage variable energy resources like wind and solar. With the decision to close the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant occurring in the middle of the term of this preliminary permit, located barely 10 miles from the Project, the potential importance of the Project has been magnified.”

Nevada Hydro described to the commission the arduous and multi–year effort to develop, execute and receive commission approval for interconnecting the project at two points on the state’s high-voltage grid. Although the process began in 2005 with Nevada Hydro submitting its application to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), it was finally completed nine years later, in late 2014 with the commission’s acceptance of the filing of the two Large Generator Interconnection Agreements (LGIAs), one with Southern California Edison and the CAISO, and one with San Diego Gas & Electric and the CAISO.

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.