Eagle Crest buys site for 1,300-MW pumped-storage hydro project

Editor’s Note: This content was originally featured on GenerationHub.com. GenerationHub.com is a sister site of HydroWorld.com that covers power generation in a number of renewable and non-renewable forms.

Eagle Mountain LLC (an affiliate of Eagle Crest Energy) has agreed to buy the Kaiser Eagle Mountain mine near Desert Center, California, from CIL&D (formerly known as Kaiser Ventures), with the site intended for a pumped storage hydroelectric project.

Eagle Crest Energy said July 2 that it plans to transform the site into a pumped storage electricity station that can bank energy from solar, wind and geothermal plants for release during times of peak demand and to maintain grid stability. The proposal calls for converting two of the mine’s vacant pits into reservoirs that transfer water back and forth through a state-of-the-art underground turbine system that can produce up to 1,300 MW.

“This project would save ratepayers money and help California meet its renewable energy goals in an environmentally friendly manner that protects water resources and wildlife, creates hundreds of jobs and infuses the local economy with millions of dollars,” Eagle Crest Energy CEO Doug Divine said.

The proposal was licensed in 2014 after rigorous environmental reviews by various state and federal energy and wildlife agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the California State Water Resources Control Board.

Pumped storage technology is considered one of the most viable solutions for renewable energy storage needs. More than 300 pumped storage facilities operate around the globe (including about 40 in the U.S.), making it the most widely used large-scale energy storage method on the planet.

“As Riverside County continues to increase its role in delivering renewable power to the rest of California, we need to find ways to store energy for use at times when solar and wind are not generating power. As vice-chair of the Senate Energy Committee, I championed pumped storage as just such a storage solution,” Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit said. “This project helps make renewable energy sources more viable, and in an environmentally sensitive manner.”

The sale agreement between Eagle Mountain LLC and CIL&D covers about 9,500 acres of land and mining claims. Of that, roughly 2,500 acres would be occupied by the energy storage facility. CIL&D, through a subsidiary, will retain the railroad and the right to sell iron ore tailings and rock from the property.

Based in Santa Monica, Eagle Crest Energy is a private entity committed to the development of renewable energy resources that reduce the need for less efficient fossil-fuel alternatives.

Eagle Crest Energy was approved in June 2014 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an original license on this project. The project will operate as a closed-loop, pumped storage facility with water for the initial reservoir fill and replenishment supplied by groundwater wells. The Eagle Mountain Project will be located in two largely inactive iron ore mining pits in the Eagle Mountain mine.

Numerous high-voltage transmission lines and service roads cross the area south of the project site. The Colorado River Aqueduct, which conveys water to coastal southern California from the Colorado River, is located just northeast of the project area extending through the Coxcomb Mountains and continuing in a southwesterly direction, passing the eastern portion of the project area in a buried pipe before entering the Metropolitan Water District’s pumping plant.

The project’s transmission system will include four, 6,000-foot-long, 18-kV underground transmission cables extending from the powerhouse to the ground surface, and then 4,000 feet overhead to a 500-foot-wide by 1,100-foot-long switchyard. Project power will then be transmitted to Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Red Bluff substation via a 16.4-mile-long, double circuit 500-kV primary transmission line.

For more pumped-storage news, visit here.

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Barry Cassell formerly was Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He  has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report . He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report . He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University. Barry can be reached at barryc@pennwell.com.

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