The Lake Hodges Pumped Storage Project, intended to both provide for emergency water storage and produce energy, is now fully operational, the San Diego County Water Authority said Thursday.
Capable of generating up to 40 megawatts of electricity, the project moves water between Lake Hodges and the Olivenhain Reservoir with its twin 28,000-horsepower pump turbines. It adds about 20,000 acre-feet of emergency water storage and can generate enough power for 26,000 homes, according to the Water Authority.
The first turbine began adding power to the grid in September 2011. The second turbine started operations late last month.
Water Authority Board Chair Michael T. Hogan said in a statement that the project benefits the region in three ways, by enhancing the reliability of the region’s water supply, helping the region meet its electricity demands and by generating revenue to offset part of the Water Authority’s operating costs, which he called a benefit to ratepayers.
A key part of the Water Authority’s $1.5 billion Emergency Storage Project, the pump storage project generates hydroelectric power on demand for the region by sending water from Olivenhain Reservoir through the pump turbines as it flows approximately 770 feet downhill into Lake Hodges.
Power is generated during daylight hours when electricity demand is highest, and water is pumped back into Olivenhain Reservoir during off-peak hours when energy costs less. A long-term power purchase agreement between the Water Authority and San Diego Gas & Electric includes terms for SDG&E’s buying of the power and a reduced rate for the Water Authority on energy required to operate the project.
“The Lake Hodges water facility is a unique project that will enhance reliability to the electric grid by providing additional local power to our customers here in San Diego, especially when supplies may be tight,” said Michael R. Niggli, president and chief operating officer for SDG&E. “This additional resource allows SDG&E to help meet our customers’ needs by having a flexible fast responding asset that will provide additional power to the grid quickly and reliably when needed, and help us integrate intermittent renewable power sources."
The Water Authority predicts the project could produce between $2 million and $3 million a year in revenue in addition to savings from lower energy costs. According to the Water Authority, another hydroelectric project the agency has had online since 2006, the Rancho Peñasquitos Hydroelectric Facility, can generate up to 4.5 megawatts of power as water flows through the Water Authority’s Second Aqueduct, and produced more than $1 million in revenue during the last fiscal year.
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