Offshore Wind, Solar Along San Diego Highways and More: Some Key Energy Bills Heading to Newsom’s Desk

Gavin Newsom better have a big desk.

Of more than 2,600 bills introduced in the legislative session that wrapped up late last week, about 840 managed to navigate their way through the Assembly and Senate. The bills that survived the legislative gauntlet now await their respective fates at the hand of the governor, who has an Oct. 13 deadline to sign them into law or veto them.

Here’s a look at some of the noteworthy energy bills Newsom will consider:

A late provision by outgoing Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, included a proposed pumped hydroelectric storage project at San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside to the list of potential projects that AB 1373 helps facilitate.

If constructed, the San Vicente project will pump water from the existing reservoir to a smaller reservoir (still to be constructed) and then generate emissions-free electricity by sending the water back downhill.

Pumped Storage Hydropower is the Greenest Renewable Energy Technology, Study Says

Pumped storage hydropower is the greenest renewable energy technology for large-scale energy storage, a new study suggests.

Researchers with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory said closed-loop pumped storage hydropower will have a lower carbon footprint throughout the lifecycle of the technology, from construction to decommissioning, than other renewable energy storage technologies like lithium-ion batteries. Portland Business Journal first reported the study.

Closed-looped pumped storage hydropower uses two water reservoirs located at different elevations, one higher than the other, that generate power as water flows or gets pumped, from one reservoir to another. Closed-looped pumped storage hydropower is not connected to continuously naturally flowing water sources.

As the nation continues to push forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition from using fossil fuels to limit the effects of climate change, storing renewable energy in batteries or pumped storage hydropower has come up as a possible solution for creating cleaner energy at a large scale. Other grid-scale technologies have proven difficult to create, from gathering essential minerals to finding an area large enough to place these technologies. Researchers said closed-looped pumped storage hydropower could be the answer.

Late Addition to Energy Bill May Help Develop a Pumped Storage Facility at San Vicente Reservoir

A wide-ranging bill at the State Capitol aimed at boosting renewable energy sources includes a provision that could help develop a proposed pumped hydroelectric facility at the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside.

Assembly Bill 1373 aims to make the state a centralized buyer for renewable energy sources such as offshore wind power and geothermal facilities. And in a late addition to the bill, it allows the state’s Department of Water Resources to procure funding for a pumped hydro project that “does not exceed 500 megawatts and has been directly appropriated funding by the state before January 1, 2023.”

The Union-Tribune received confirmation from legislative sources that the provision specifically refers to the San Vicente project.

Solar Farms Are Booming in the California Desert—but They Could Make the Drought Much Worse

Solar farms stretch out mile after mile along Interstate 10 around Palm Springs, creating one of the densest areas of solar development in North America in the heart of California’s Colorado Desert. But the area’s success in meeting the state and the nation’s renewable energy goals is running up against the Southwest’s biggest climate challenge: having enough water.

Opinion: TVA is Right to Supercharge Renewable Energy Options With Expanded Pumped Storage

Because of the decrease in fossil fuel plants, an old idea suddenly looks new again in the consideration of power generation for TVA.

The utility has begun to study whether a pumped storage power plant similar to the Raccoon Mountain facility just west of Chattanooga might be feasible for either of two mountain ridges along the Tennessee River in Northeast Alabama.

Opinion: To Meet Climate Goals, San Diego County Needs Battery Energy Storage in Every Community

Months of exceptionally cold and rainy weather have made it easy to forget that just eight months ago in California we endured the most extreme September heatwave on record. High temperatures drove record-breaking demand for electricity, and the state managed to avoid blackouts by tapping into a wave of new solar energy and battery energy storage resources and facilities that helped send clean, renewable power to shoulder the load.

Every Day is Earth Day for Water Agencies in San Diego County

“Invest in Our Planet” is the theme for Earth Day 2023. Investing in sustainable, local water supply sources and conservation has long been a way of life in San Diego County by water agencies and residents.

“Investing in our planet can take many forms, and the challenges we face differ from community to community,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “One investment I encourage San Diegans to think about on this Earth Day is landscape transformation. This is important because the biggest users of water at our homes are our landscapes – perhaps as much as 70% of our water use, depending on where we live.”

Sustainability is a priority of the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies. Creating and maintaining a safe, reliable, sustainable water supply for the region ensures the vitality of San Diego County’s $268 billion economy for its 3.3 million residents.

Opinion: Climate Change is Here. It’s Time Californians Stopped Clinging to the Past

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

So says Matthew Broderick in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and he might as well be talking about California these days. As the planet continues to heat up, the state’s landscapes, watersheds and weather are shifting so fast it can be difficult to keep track.

SDG&E Breaks Ground for ‘Microgrid’ in Clairemont to Maximize Renewal Energy

San Diego Gas & Electric broke ground on the Clairemont microgrid Tuesday, one of four projects the utility has planned at its existing substations.

Once finished, the Clairemont microgrid will be able to provide backup power to San Diego Fire Station 36, the Balboa Branch Library and local schools such as Lafayette Elementary, Sequoia Elementary, Innovation and CPMA Middle Schools and Madison High School.

Microgrids are small-scale grids that can operate independent of or parallel to the larger regional grid to keep critical facilities powered during unexpected outages.

Each microgrid project is paired with energy storage, with the four projects bringing an additional 39 megawatts of battery capacity to the region. SDG&E currently has 95 MW of utility-owned energy storage online, with another 200+ MW in development.

California Funds 60 MWh Tribal Long-Duration Storage Project With Nation’s Largest Vanadium Redox Flow Battery

The California Energy Commission has issued a $31 million grant to build a 60 MWh long-duration energy storage system that is expected to provide backup power to the Viejas Tribe of Kumeyaay Indians and bolster the reliability of the energy system statewide.