The project would use excess solar and wind energy to pump water to a new reservoir above the current dam, and then release it through turbines to generate up to 500 megawatts of electricity when needed.
“This is an exciting project that meets multiple goals for the San Diego region, including protection from blackouts and supporting climate-friendly energy sources,” said Gary Bousquet, director of engineering for the water authority.
“We are committed to finding a private partner who can help move this from concept to completion,” he added.
The authority is seeking proposals by Nov. 3 for the project, which is being jointly developed with the city of San Diego.
Environmental reviews are expected to take four years, followed by four years of construction, during which 1,000 jobs would be created.
Unlike traditional hydroelectric projects, the pumped storage system would be a closed loop between the two reservoirs, with no water lost in the process.