San Diego Plans to Use Water to Store 500-MW of Energy, Save Ratepayers Money

As San Diegans start to crank up their air conditioners, the city and the San Diego County Water Authority are developing a way to store energy by using water. Water officials said it’s expected to save ratepayers money in the long run, according to a May 4 report by the ABC-TV affiliate KGTV San Diego.

The city and authority want to build an energy storage facility at the San Vicente Reservoir, about 25 miles northeast of San Diego. Right now, the reservoir serves as an emergency water storage facility for the city. Its depth is 306 feet when full  – holding enough water to supply half a million households for an entire year.

“Which would be vital if we couldn’t get water into the region,” SDCWA Energy Program Manager Kelly Rodgers told the news outlet.

Rodgers said they want to use unused, extra energy from the Sunrise Powerlink –a 117-mile transmission line that will carry renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to San Diego – to pump water, using battery power, to a new smaller reservoir above the San Vicente Reservoir. Then the water would be returned to the larger reservoir through a series of turbines to generate even more renewable power. 

“It’s a pretty simple process really,” said Brent Eidson of the City of San Diego.  He added the energy generated would help reduce water rates.

“It’s going to end up being a more affordable product in the end.  It’s going to be better for ratepayers,” he told KGTV San Diego.

Rodgers told the TV station that the 500 MW generated and stored by the project would be enough for 325,000 households every year.

Right now, the SDCWA and city are searching for a partner to proceed with the project that’s expected to be completed by 2025.

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