San Diego considers hydropower project

Caption: The San Vicente Reservoir. Courtesy: San Diego County Water Authority

The city of San Diego and San Diego County Water Authority are considering the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in the San Vicente Reservoir, according to a report by KPBS Public Broadcasting.

The Public Utilities Department told the City Council’s Environment Committee that the study of the $1 billion project could take 18 months to two years to complete.

Committee members were told the facility would function as a large battery that could counter the inherent intermittency issues of the city’s future renewable energy resources.

If built, the 500-MW power plant would generate enough electricity to compensate for the local share of energy lost when the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station closed. The plant would also generate enough revenue to offset the cost of water in the drought-stricken region, and help the city reach California’s renewable energy goals.

Last year the Water Authority finished a project that raised the San Vicente Dam by 117 feet in order to create more storage space. Depending on rainfall, it could take four more years to reach the new capacity.

The agency currently operates a 40-megawatt hydroelectric plant at Lake Hodges.

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