San Vicente Reservoir
The San Vicente Reservoir in East County. Photo courtesy of the San Diego County Water Authority

The San Diego County Water Authority and city of San Diego have decided to move forward with environmental review of a pumped-storage electricity generating plant at the San Vicente Reservoir in East County.

The project entails creating a new, smaller reservoir above the giant city-owned lake, a tunnel between the two, and underground pump turbines. Water would be pumped to the upper reservoir when there is excess power on the grid, then drawn down to generate electricity when needed.

The facility could generate enough power to supply 135,000 households and alleviate temporary shortages that could cause blackouts.

Last week the water authority’s board approved a $4.6 million contract with AECOM Technical Services to perform environmental work for the project.

The board also opened negotiations with BHE Kiewit, a team that includes Berkshire Hathaway Energy, to design the facility.

“The San Vicente Energy Storage Facility project meets multiple goals for the San Diego region, including protection from blackouts and supporting climate-friendly energy sources,” said Gary Croucher, chair of the water authority’s board. “We’re excited to get moving.” 

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria praised the project, citing the environmental benefit and potential to create jobs.

“On top of providing a reliable, clean source of energy and helping our city and the state of California meet our climate goals, this project has the potential to create well-paying local jobs,” he said. “I’m proud of the city’s partnership on this project and look forward to it moving though the regulatory approval process to fruition.”

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.