Lake Elsinore pumped-storage project suffers another setback

VISTA, Calif. 4/18/12 (PennWell) -- Judge Angela Minkin recently decided to dismiss Nevada Hydro Co.’s application to build a transmission line for the 600-MW Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage project.

This decision, reached April 5, would become final only after a vote by the five-member California Public Utilities Commission. The developer has 30 days from the date of the ruling to file comments with the commission.

Nevada Hydro has spent more than 14 years and $26 million to build the project, which would be located on San Juan Creek in Riverside County, Calif., utilizing the existing Lake Elsinore as its lower reservoir. A 240-foot-tall dam and upper reservoir would be built in Decker Canyon, along with a powerhouse. The plan also includes 32 miles of 500-kV transmission line connecting to an existing Southern California Edison transmission line to the north and an existing San Diego Gas & Electric transmission line to the south. The project, originally estimated to cost $353 million in 2007 dollars, is now expected to cost $684 million.

Minkin’s ruling called the company’s financing and project description “vague and speculative.”

The project experienced a setback in July 2011 when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Nevada Hydro’s permit request for the project. The then-500-MW project was rejected due to long-standing disagreements between Nevada Hydro and its co-applicant, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, owner of Lake Elsinore.

FERC accepted a new preliminary permit application for the project in December 2011.

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