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San Diego Seeking Energy Storage at San Vicente Reservoir

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By Editors of Power Engineering

The San Diego County Water Authority announced it will seek detailed proposals for a potential energy storage facility at the San Vicente Reservoir that could total up to 500 MW. The official RFP will go out this summer.

The request for proposals follows a January request for letters of intent to measure interest in the facility. In response, the Water Authority received 18 responses from qualified parties, including five full-service entities that would finance, design, permit, built and operate the potential project and secure an off-taker for the produced energy. The other respondents included two developers, five off-takers, and six other parties interested in constructing the project, providing equipment for the project or serving as a consultant for engineering, procurement, and construction services.

“We wanted to find out if there really is a broad desire among potential stakeholders to see a project like this in our region, and now we know there is,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “We’re now going to gather more details about how it could come together for the benefit of ratepayers.”

The Water Authority intends the project to ease pressure on the electric grid, keep electric service reliable and keep water rates from rising by providing a new source of revenue.

Discussions with entities that responded to the RFP confirmed the authority’s findings from feasibility studies that began in late 2013. Namely, the project would help stabilize the grid, the project size is appropriate and infrastructure to support the project already exists.

The project would include an interconnection and pumping system between the reservoir and a new, smaller reservoir uphill that would be used during off-peak energy use periods to pump water uphill to the upper reservoir and create a bank of stored hydroelectric energy. That energy would be released to the lower reservoir as needed.

The Water Authority already operates a similar energy storage facility at Lake Hodges with a capacity of 40 MW.