What is your timeline for the proposed LEAPS project?
We filed our license application with FERC on October 2, 2017, which will be subject to regulatory review, including public consultation and information. After receipt of regulatory approvals, we expect to sign necessary contracts and the construction period will take 4 to 5 years. Ideally, LEAPS could be supplying electricity to the California grid by late 2022 or early 2023.
Why was the proposed site selected?
Lake Elsinore and its adjacent mountain range provide the unique geographical topography required to construct a pumped storage facility that has long been considered ideal for pumped storage. The sharp difference in elevation between two neighboring reservoirs allows the gravitational force to power turbine generators when water is transferred from the upper to the lower reservoir. The topography required for pumped storage is rare, which is one of the primary limiting factors of constructing more pumped storage plants worldwide.
What is Pumped Storage?
Pumped storage stores energy in the form of water in an upper reservoir, pumped from a lower reservoir. During peak usage, the energy is released from the upper reservoir, flowing downhill through a turbine to generate electricity. During off-peak usage, electricity from the grid is used to reverse the turbines and pump the water back uphill. These plants are very efficient, some boasting up to 85% efficiency, and all without the environmental impacts of generation from coal, oil and gas, or nuclear or electricity storage using batteries.
Pumped storage is a tried and true “renewable” technology which has been in use since the 1920’s and remains one of the most efficient forms of large scale storage, with a lifespan over 100 years.
Why is Energy Storage important to California?
Energy storage is a vital asset to the stability and reliability of our electrical grid. Wind and solar, although great sources of renewable energy, are “intermittent”, making it nearly impossible to rely on them when we need it most. Energy storage is reliable and enables us to maximize intermittent solar and wind energy and apply it to the grid when demand is the greatest. One of the most important benefits storage provides is that it can be brought on line quickly to allow load balancing which facilitates grid stability and reliability, helping to prevent blackouts and other issues.
LEAPS is the most advanced, large-scale pumped hydro storage project in the USA, and can to offer benefits to electricity customers in California as early as 2022.
How will this project benefit our community?
The LEAPS project looks forward to positively augmenting the local Temescal Valley through
- Significant construction and operation jobs,
- Indirect employment these create in the hospitality and service sector,
- Payment of municipal and states taxes and fees, and
- Contributions through partnerships with community organizations
What employment and business opportunities will be available?
The project will create almost 600 direct, mostly union jobs over the 4-5 year construction phase. That equates to almost five million person hours of employment. There will also be indirect employment and business opportunities during and after construction. Once built, LEAPS will require 30-50 permanent employees for the operation and maintenance of the plant and facilities.
Where will the electricity generated be used?
Another geographical benefit of the LEAPS project is its ability to benefit both the northern SCE grid and the southern SDG&E grid. Located at the southern end of the SCE grid and connecting to SDGE’s northernmost substation, the project benefits can be shared by residents of San Diego, Los Angeles and Riverside. Most importantly, the project comes with “black start” capabilities meaning that in the event of a blackout, the project can reenergize wires in the area as the first step to bringing back the entire blacked out grid area.
What new facilities will be required?
A huge benefit of pumped storage is that its infrastructure is mostly underground, consisting of penstock and a power station housing the turbines. These facilities, located between the two reservoirs will be tunneled through the mountain range. The underground location will minimize the aesthetic impact. Further, power lines from the plant will be underground in the plant area, again minimizing aesthetic impacts.
Is the transmission going to be visible from my home?
Extensive time and care was taken when routing the transmission in order to minimize aesthetic impact and maximize the distance from homes. While most of the transmission is veiled by hillsides and natural barriers, and a portion underground, certain towers may be seen from vantage points in open areas such as the 15 freeway. Our surveying team is prepared to help field any concerns you have regarding tower aesthetics and, in some cases, can even provide 3d modeling of the proposed transmission from various vantage points. If you have any specific questions or concerns on the transmission in your area, please contact our team by phone at (760) 599-1813.
What will be the impact on the water level of Lake Elsinore?
Because of the large surface area of Lake Elsinore, the variation in water Level when the water is transferred between reservoirs is very small, rising and falling by only 6 inches. The project team is considering various measures to mitigate any impacts on recreational users, flora or fauna.
Will LEAPS increase the fire risk?
An added benefit of having an upper Reservoir in Decker Canyon is the provision of water to fight fires where it is needed, in the Cleveland Forest. Firefighters and helicopters will have easy access to draw water from the upper reservoir to apply to nearby forest fires.
What will be the impact on water quality?
The LEAPS project is committed to improving the water quality of Lake Elsinore. The Lake has historically suffered from various water quality issues stemming from its shallow depth and lack of aeration. As suggested by a recent UC Riverside study, the water transfer between the two reservoirs can improve the aeration of the Lake. Better aeration will reduce some ongoing issues such as fish kills and algal overgrowth.
The LEAPS proponents have commissioned research into water quality, quantity and recreation uses in Lake Elsinore. We believe the project will improve water quality and recreation and further enable water management in the valley. When these studies are completed, they will be reported on the LEAPS website and as part of the FERC process.
The LEAPS proponents have pledged to work with its team of scientists and the community to enhance the lake and its recreational opportunities.
What will be the impact on recreational use?
The LEAPS project operations will not pose any harm to boaters, humans, fish or recreation on the lake. In fact, changes to the lake will be mostly unnoticeable. The LEAPS project infrastructure is located deep beneath the earth and the surface of the water. Researchers are optimistic that recreation will benefit from the expected water quality improvements that LEAPS will bring to Lake Elsinore.
Do you have water and property rights for the projects?
The LEAPS team expects to obtain all necessary rights to operate the proposed project upon receipt of its license from FERC.
Why have you routed transmission lines by existing residential developments?
The FLA filed on October 2, 2017 includes a number of revisions to the original project’s transmission routes to address issues raised by stakeholders. We adopted recommendations by FERC staff by moving parts of the northern and southern transmission lines and will run parts underground to maintain aesthetic views across the lake as well as to avoid some recreational areas.
Residents we have spoken with or who have filed comments with FERC are concerned about the aesthetics of the proposed transmission lines traversing the valley. We intend to meet with residents of Lake Elsinore, Sycamore Creek, Sycamore Hills, Serrano Ridge, Horsethief Canyon Ranch, Glen Eden and surrounding areas to discuss their concerns and show sitelines of the transmission towers from various vantage points in the valley. The LEAPS proponents believe the transmission facilities will be less conspicuous than some people have suggested. [This is where we contrast photoshopped LEAPS towers and existing towers discussed today]
Why are you not holding any meetings to get public input?
We have a great deal of public and agency input over the15 years the project has been in development. We are committed to meeting with agencies, municipalities and others as directed by FERC and to holding an open house for potentially impacted residents. In the near term, we will be talking with various stakeholders and reviewing resident inputs to date on the FERC site and updating this website to provide as much information as possible as it becomes available.
Now that we have filed our FLA, we are bound by the regulatory process and timelines imposed by the government. FERC has said it is confident that its post-filing procedures will provide sufficient opportunity for stakeholders to comment on our application.
We will provide more information pertaining to the project, the proposed transmission route, sightlines from communities, mock-ups of the proposed transmission tower array, and answers to frequently asked questions on the LEAPS website in the coming weeks. We expect to hold an open house to discuss the LEAPS project and receive input from the communities adjacent to the northern transmission line route at the appropriate time. We will provide notice of the open house on the LEAPS website, verbally, by email as possible, and through notices in local newspapers.
What environmental studies have you done to update the previous proposal?
The LEAPS team has assembled a copious amount of information for the original Project No. 11858 process. We recognize that some incremental updates will be required, and we will work with the appropriate agencies and Indian tribes to address any outstanding issues.
The LEAPS Project proponents have done a significant amount of work to keep its environmental studies and consultation with relevant agencies fresh since in accordance with a 2015 directive from FERC regarding Nevada Hydro’s ability to update and refile relevant information from the previous Project 11858 proceeding as part of a license application for this updated project.