The expanded San Vicente Dam and reservoir in East County. Courtesy of the San Diego County Water Authority

The San Vicente Energy Storage Facility received $18 million from the state budget signed this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the local water authority announced Friday.

The money is enough to advance a large-scale renewable energy project through initial design, environmental reviews and the federal licensing process.

The project is an effort by the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority.

According to water officials, the San Vicente project “is one of the most promising pumped energy storage solutions in California and it would be a major asset to help avoid rolling blackouts through on-demand energy production while helping to meet state climate goals.”

Proponents say the project could steady ratepayer costs across the San Diego region by generating additional revenue to help offset the cost of water purchases, storage and treatment.

When completed, the San Vicente energy project would provide up to 500 megawatts of long-duration stored energy to meet peak electrical demand periods throughout Southern California.

The project would create a small upper reservoir above the existing San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside, along with a tunnel system and an underground powerhouse to connect the two reservoirs.

Its powerhouse would contain four reversible pump turbines, to pump water to the upper reservoir, where it would act as a battery of stored potential energy.

It would also help meet the goals of Senate Bill 100, which requires 60% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% zero-carbon energy resources statewide by 2045.

According to the water authority, the project would provide enough energy for about 135,000 households once fully operational.

Authority board Chairman Gary Croucher credited state leaders and agency staff members who have collaborated on the project for years.

Croucher also thanked Newsom and Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, “for ensuring funding for this critical infrastructure project, which will create more than 1,000 construction-related jobs in addition to its other benefits.

The city and the water authority teamed seven years ago to raise the height of the city-owned San Vicente Dam by 117 feet.

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