Developers compete for California pumped-storage site

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is to consider competing applications from developers who want to study the feasibility of building and operating a Sworinger Reservoir pumped-storage project in California.

NT Hydro of Idaho Falls, Idaho, filed the first application for a preliminary permit, to study development of a 182-MW project in California’s Modoc and Lassen counties and in Nevada’s Washoe County. FERC issued a notice accepting the application for filing in June. The project (No. 12673) would include the existing Sworinger Dam, a 30-foot-tall, 900-foot-long rockfill dam forming an upper reservoir, and the existing Lower Lake, which would serve as the lower reservoir.

The second developer, Estill Ranches LLC of Eagleville, Calif., proposes to study a 157-MW project that would feature Sworinger Reservoir, the existing Newlands Reservoir, and the proposed Lower Newlands Reservoir. It filed a competing preliminary permit application (No. 12733) Sept. 1. Estill said it owns Sworinger Reservoir, its water rights, and most of the land abutting the reservoir.

A preliminary permit protects a developer from competitors while it conducts an economic analysis, prepares preliminary engineering plans, and studies project effects on the environment. Based on the results of those studies, the permit holder could decide whether to proceed with a license application to construct and operate the project. The term of a preliminary permit is three years.

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