A developer is proposing to build three high-capacity, closed-loop pumped storage projects, two in eastern California and the third in Utah, according to preliminary permit applications filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Owens Valley project would be built in three stages of 800 MW, 2,000 MW, and 2,400 MW capacity, according to Premium Energy Holdings’ March 28 filing [P-14984].
It would be located in the Owens Valley of eastern California, between the Mono and Inyo counties, 15 miles north of Bishop.
The upper reservoirs would be on Wheeler Ridge, and the lower pools either in Lower Rock Creek Gorge or the Owens River Gorge, which would take advantage of “the nearly 6,000 feet of available head between the Wheeler Ridge of the Sierra Nevada and the Owens Valley floor,” the application states.
Water to fill the upper reservoirs would be obtained from Lake Crowley, Owens River, or Rock Creek, and the hydraulic heads would range between 4,600 and 6,180 feet, depending on the choice of lower reservoir.
The powerhouse of each development stage would be located underground, along with headrace and tailrace pressure tunnels, which Premium Energy says would “not alter the existing landscape, thus reducing environmental disturbances.”
The plants would interconnect either with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power or Southern California Edison transmission systems, both for station operation and for power delivery to the regional grid.
The proposed Haiwee pumped storage project would be located 10 miles south of Olancha, Calif., in Inyo County, and around 100 miles south-southeast of the Owens Valley site, according to the May 3 preliminary permit application [P-14991].
The capacity, to be determined in the course of the permit work, would be in the range of 1,200 to 2,000 MW. It would include new upper and lower reservoirs, with heads between 1,465 and 2,900 feet.
The project would be located on land owned by the Los Angeles Department Water and Power, as well as Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Lands, and potentially some Department of Defense lands associated with the nearby Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.
Premium Energy anticipates filling the reservoirs using water from the nearby Los Angeles Aqueduct.
The lower reservoir is planned to be upstream of the existing North Haiwee Reservoir, which the application says could potentially fail during a “maximum credible earthquake,” and release of a large volume of water. The new lower reservoir would “act as a backup dam to ensure safety of the populations and improve reliability of the existing North Haiwee Reservoir for water conveyance,” the developer’s application states.
The Intermountain pumped storage project would be located 5 miles northeast of Delta, Utah, in Millard County, according to the preliminary permit filed May 9 [P-14993].
Depending on the final design, the capacity could be in the range of 1,200 to 2,000 MW, and a hydraulic head between 1,505 and 2,445 feet.
The project would use the existing DMAD reservoir (named for the four irrigation companies that jointly built it: Delta, Melville, Abraham, and Deseret) as a lower pool and a new reservoir in the Canyon Mountains Range as the upper pool.
The existing DMAD reservoir dam would need to be raised by 20 feet in order to store the additional water reserve for pumped storage operation, and would also provide additional water storage that could be used for irrigation and water conveyance.
Alternatives for an upper reservoir to operate the Intermountain Pumped Storage Power Plant would require the construction of a new embankment to create a new reservoir in the Canyon Mountains east of the existing DMAD Reservoir.
Premium Energy will have 24 months to complete its studies and potentially file for a development permit once FERC issues a preliminary permit.