Proposed San Vicente Reservoir hydro facility project aims to meet energy goals

“The state has an aggressive renewable state goal with 100% by 2045. With clean energy, this project will help in meeting these goals.”

SAN DIEGO — The leader of a conservation group opposes the idea of building this facility since it could be built on two preserves. Friday, the San Diego County Water Authority explained why it’s beneficial for California.

Neena Kuzmich from the San Diego County Water Authority says the proposed hydro energy storage facility at the San Vicente Reservoir will not only generate power for thousands of households, it will help California meet its energy goals.

“The state has an aggressive renewable state goal with 100% by 2045. With clean energy, this project will help in meeting these goals. It will use renewable energy during the day for later use and it does not emit greenhouse gases,” said Kuzmich.

How it works is the project would create a small upper reservoir above the existing, city-owned San Vicente Reservoir. They’d be connected by a tunnel system and an underground powerhouse.

Water from the bottom would then be pumped up to the smaller reservoir where it’d be stored and eventually released back downwards generating electricity.

Kuzmich says the state allocated $18 million to further advance the construction of the project, something Diane Conklin, leader of the Mussey Grade Road Alliance is against.

“We are absolutely gobsmacked that they think this would be possible here. The issue is putting industrial site on 2 preserves. That is a terrible precedent to set and it’s the wrong thing to do. It seems insane,” said Conklin.

The total cost of the project is $1.5 billion which tax payers will have to pay for, however, Kuzmich says taxpayers will benefit from this.

“We will receive revenue for using those assets and that revenue will offset water rates. This facility will be less expensive than relying on power from outside of the state renewable energy,” said Kuzmich.

There are alternate proposed sites for the upper reservoir. They are still in the early stages of this project that if approved, is expected to be completed in 2030.


San Vicente Pumped-Storage Electricity Project Moves Ahead to Environmental Review

By Chris Jennewein – February 2, 2022

The San Diego County Water Authority and city of San Diego have decided to move forward with environmental review of a pumped-storage electricity generating plant at the San Vicente Reservoir in East County.

The project entails creating a new, smaller reservoir above the giant city-owned lake, a tunnel between the two, and underground pump turbines. Water would be pumped to the upper reservoir when there is excess power on the grid, then drawn down to generate electricity when needed.

The facility could generate enough power to supply 135,000 households and alleviate temporary shortages that could cause blackouts.

Last week the water authority’s board approved a $4.6 million contract with AECOM Technical Services to perform environmental work for the project.

The board also opened negotiations with BHE Kiewit, a team that includes Berkshire Hathaway Energy, to design the facility.

“The San Vicente Energy Storage Facility project meets multiple goals for the San Diego region, including protection from blackouts and supporting climate-friendly energy sources,” said Gary Croucher, chair of the water authority’s board. “We’re excited to get moving.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria praised the project, citing the environmental benefit and potential to create jobs.

“On top of providing a reliable, clean source of energy and helping our city and the state of California meet our climate goals, this project has the potential to create well-paying local jobs,” he said. “I’m proud of the city’s partnership on this project and look forward to it moving though the regulatory approval process to fruition.”