Major Energy Storage Project Proposed Near Lebec Along California Aqueduct

California’s energy future keeps pointing to Kern.

The latest 10-figure energy storage proposal in the county is a damlike “pumped hydro” project connected to the California Aqueduct that would store and release 3,500 gigawatt-hours of power per year on or near Tejon Ranch.

There’s no money yet for it or a similar proposal the same Los Angeles County engineering and development group disclosed in December that would be located next to Isabella Lake.

In Search of ‘Lithium Valley’: Why Energy Companies See Riches in the California Desert

Standing atop a pockmarked red mesa, Rod Colwell looks out at an expanse of water that resembles a thin blue strip on the horizon. The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, has come and gone at least five times in the last 1,300 years, most recently in 1905, when floodwaters from the Colorado River refilled its basin.

A mid-century resort destination, the lake has since become an environmental disaster zone.

Drought Forces West to Turn to Fossil Fuels That Helped Cause It

An unlikely energy sector is emerging as a winner from the West’s megadrought: fossil fuels, whose heavy use has been blamed for creating the conditions causing the drought in the first place.

The drought has slashed the electricity-generating capacity of major hydroelectric dams, forcing buyers to spend millions of dollars to buy extra power from an expensive sellers’ market.

San Vicente Energy Storage Facility project-renewable energy-grid-pumped hydro

Request for Proposals Issued to Develop San Vicente Energy Storage Facility

San Diego County Water Authority this week issued a formal Request for Proposals seeking a full-service private partner capable of developing a large-scale pumped energy storage project planned jointly by the Water Authority and the City of San Diego. Proposals are due by 2 p.m. Nov. 3, and details such as how to file are included in the RFP document at

Request for Proposals

The partner agencies aim to maximize the value of the existing San Vicente Reservoir for on-demand energy generation to support the state’s clean energy goals. The Water Authority and the City of San Diego are seeking a full-service, multidisciplinary team capable of delivering and operating the project.  The scope of work is divided into two phases: Phase 1 Preliminary Work and Phase 2 Implementation Work. The RFP details the scope of work required for development and deployment of the project, including a financial plan.

“This is an exciting project that meets multiple goals for the San Diego region, including protection from blackouts and supporting climate-friendly energy sources,” said Gary Bousquet, director of engineering for the Water Authority. “We are committed to finding a private partner who can help move this from concept to completion.”

State funds for San Vicente Energy Storage Facility

In July 2021, the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility received $18 million in the state budget, enough to advance it through initial design, environmental reviews, and the federal licensing process. The San Vicente project is one of the most promising pumped energy storage solutions in California and it would be a major asset to help avoid rolling blackouts through on-demand energy production while helping to meet state climate goals. It also could mitigate costs for water ratepayers across the San Diego region by generating additional revenue to help offset the cost of water purchases, storage, and treatment. The City and the Water Authority are developing the project together, just like they did to raise the height of the city-owned San Vicente Dam 117 feet in the 2010s.

“The San Vicente Energy Storage Facility is an important project for San Diego,” said Juan Guerreiro, executive assistant director of the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department. “It will improve our energy security, with a clean renewable power solution to help us efficiently manage the energy supply within our region.”

With state funding in place, the Water Authority and the City are preparing to launch federal and state environmental reviews and seek a project license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Those complex components are expected to take at least four years, with construction completion forecast for 2030. The critical infrastructure project will create more than 1,000 construction-related jobs in addition to its other benefits.

Renewable energy for Southern California

Upon completion, the San Vicente energy project would provide up to 500 megawatts of long-duration stored energy, which will assist in meeting peak electrical demand periods throughout Southern California and help meet the goals of Senate Bill 100, which requires 60% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% zero-carbon energy resources statewide by 2045. The project will provide enough energy for about 135,000 households when operating.

California’s continuing shift to renewables will require new kinds of investments, markets, and business practices. Electric grids need to be more flexible; new kinds of power supplies will help deliver energy flexibility when needed; and new pricing systems are needed to send clear signals to developers and financial markets that these projects need to move forward.

Pumped energy storage projects are a major piece of the solution. They are designed to store excess renewable energy from solar and wind during the day, and then discharge that energy when energy use increases in the evening and renewable energy is not available.

The San Vicente project would create a small upper reservoir above the existing San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside, along with a tunnel system and an underground powerhouse to connect the two reservoirs. The powerhouse would contain four reversible pump turbines.



San Vicente Energy Storage Facility Project-Renewable Energy-Graphic

During off-peak periods – when power is inexpensive and renewable supplies from wind and solar facilities exceed demand – turbines would pump water to the upper reservoir where it would act as a battery of stored potential energy. During high energy use, the system would discharge water from the upper reservoir downhill through the turbines, producing energy. The exchange between the two reservoirs would not consume water.

San Vicente Reservoir is near major electricity transmission interconnection facilities, which would allow the project to play a central role in integrating solar and wind energy from across the Southwest for use in San Diego County. The San Vicente project is largely immune to the challenges faced by some conventional hydropower facilities because it is a closed-loop system that mainly holds imported water and is not reliant on runoff that can fluctuate significantly from year to year and hamper power production.

(Editor’s note: The City of San Diego is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Poof! Plans Underway to Transform Sewage Into Electricity, Clean Water

It’s like a magic trick for poop. Put it in one end of the machine, and out the other comes electricity, distilled water and a small amount of ash. And there’s none of the greenhouse gas — namely methane — produced by traditional sewage treatment and sewage sludge decomposition.

Though it might seem futuristic, this innovative blueprint has attracted grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission, the latter to the tune of $1.6 million. The money is helping to fund a demonstration project at south Orange County’s Santa Margarita Water District. Partners include Stanford University’s Codiga Resource Recovery Center.

Pre-RFP: San Vicente Energy Storage RFP to be Advertised Next Month

The San Vicente Energy Storage Facility RFP will be advertised starting next month, according to the San Diego County Water Authority. This will allow bidders time to prepare proposals for submission in November.

The joint RFP is being issued by the San Diego County Water Authority, and the City of San Diego, California, and is seeking a private sector partner for the 500 MW pumped energy storage project.

According to Gary Bousquet, the director of engineering at San Diego County Water Authority, the project is a proposed closed-loop pumped storage facility and is “essential to California achieving its renewable and clean energy goals established by Senate Bill 100.”

Recognizing the need for large-scale storage, Bousquet explained, the California FY22/23 budget includes USD 18 million “to advance the development of this facility.”

As the Climate Warms, Electricity Demand Shows a Regional Shift

Even though American spent more time at home in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, retail residential sales of electricity per capita rose by only 1% per person, year-on-year from 2019 to 2020, said the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration. The agency said that warmer weather in 2020, especially a particularly mild winter, increased electricity usage from air conditioning, but cut U.S. electricity usage for space heating during colder months.

EIA reported that from 1960 to 2010, per capita U.S. electricity use posted a 3% average annual increase. That trend slowed over the past decade due to warmer weather and energy efficiency upgrades. Since 2010, per capita residential electricity use has fallen 5% in the U.S.. That means 2020 represented an uptick in demand relative to the broader trend.

Power Shutoffs Should Be Last Resort, Regulators Warn

The president of California’s utility regulator warned a top power company Monday that power outages to prevent equipment from sparking wildfires should only be used as a last resort.

“We need specifics on where you have improved, where you are lagging and where you are focusing your resources,” California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer told representatives of San Diego Gas & Electric. “Utilities will be judged by outcome, not by plans.”

Opinion: San Vicente Hydroelectric Project a Smart Way to Make Power Grid More Resilient

The state government’s decision to provide $18 million to fund preliminary work on state and federal approvals for the long-anticipated San Vicente Energy Storage Facility — advocated by the San Diego County Water Authority and the city of San Diego — makes the $1.5 billion project significantly more likely to come to pass. The great news is that the “pumped hydro” facility at the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside will strongly shore up available energy supplies at night after solar power is no longer directly available.

San Vicente Energy Project Allocated $18 Million in State Budget

The San Vicente Energy Storage Facility received $18 million from the state budget signed this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the San Diego County Water Authority announced on Friday. The money is enough to advance the large-scale renewable energy project through the initial design, environmental reviews and the federal licensing process. The project is an effort by the City of San Diego and the water authority.