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Water Authority To Study Viability Of New Hydroelectric Plant

The San Diego County Water Authority announced today that it plans to study whether to build a hydroelectric power plant at the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside.

San Diego County Water Authority

The San Diego County Water Authority has been upgrading its existing water storage facilities in an effort to decrease reliance on the Metropolitan Water Authority. This photo shows construction at the San Vicente Dam to remove the right crest of the dam to increase the size of the reservoir, November 2009.

Such a plant could produce enough power for 325,000 homes, which would be helpful now that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is being shuttered, SDCWA officials said.

"Given the closure of the San Onofre plant, it makes sense for us to determine whether we can leverage our experience with hydroelectric power to help meet the region's need for clean energy,'' said Frank Belock, a deputy general manager at the Water Authority. "The concept of pumped storage at San Vicente has been on our radar for years and is a natural next step now that the San Vicente Dam Raise project is almost complete.''

He said an independent economic review in conjunction with the city of San Diego, which owns the reservoir, will help the SDCWA Board of Directors determine whether it should be made a priority.

A small reservoir in the hills above the San Vicente Reservoir would have to be built, along with other facilities, according to the SDCWA.

Agency officials said during periods of peak energy demand, water would flow down from the upper reservoir, through the hydroelectric system to create electricity and end up in the lower reservoir.

The water would be pumped back up during periods of lower demand.

A similar system is in use in the North County at a much smaller scale, according to the SDCWA.

The SDCWA reported that the assessment would cost $150,000 and be completed next spring. Construction would take five years.

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Avatar for user 'waterguy'

waterguy | July 9, 2013 at 3:12 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Rather than creating a new upper reservoir and only generating hydroelectric power in a "pump back" mode, wouldn't it have been more cost-effective to incorporate a hydroelectric generating facility as part of the San Vicente Dam Raise Project. With more than double the storage capacity and additional hydraulic head pressure created by the adding 117 feet to the height of the old dam, it would seem that they could have been generating electric power whenever water was being released from the dam to the downstream water treatment facilities. And since the recently completed Sunrise Powerlink transmission lines crosses City of San Diego property less than a quarter mile from the dam, getting the hydro power connected to the SDG&E transmission grid should have been a snap.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | July 10, 2013 at 3:14 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

If CWA has an informal agreement with SDG&E for the utility to buy power from this project, CWA better get it in writing before spending any money on this proposal. SDG&E refuses to buy new power from NRG's planned 500MW natural gas powerplant at Encina and any other proposed powerplants it doesn't fully control.

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