The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is moving forward with plans to buy a hydroelectric powerhouse and reservoir from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for $10.4 million. In a joint statement, the local utility providers announced that the Chili Bar Hydroelectric Project — a dam, reservoir, spillway and powerhouse that generates electricity north of Placerville on the South Fork of the American River — would be changing hands after SMUD’s board of directors voted Thursday evening to greenlight the purchase. The purchase is expected to be finalized in 2020.
Despite the efforts of a handful of Riverside County lawmakers, a controversial bill that would pave the way for a massive hydroelectric energy storage project on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park has been shelved for now, leaving the Eagle Mountain project still without a clear path forward. The project would use abandoned iron mining pits to store billions of gallons of groundwater, pumped from the Chuckwalla Valley aquifer. Once operational, the facility would use abundant daytime solar power to pump water from a lower retention area to a higher elevation.
Some residents in the Southern California city of Lake Elsinore fear power lines from a proposed $2 billion hydro electric dam project could ignite a brush fire. Residents are worried electrical towers and power lines could impact the area as part of the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pump Storage Dam project. “In the last two years, there have been two wildfires that have burned in the location of the proposed transmission line locations,” said Joe Folmar, who heads up a group of residents who oppose the project. “The Wildomar fire in 2017 and the Holy Fire in 2018 are the two fires, both of which required mandatory evacuations.”