Valley News -

By Senator Jeff Stone
Special to Valley News 

Pump storage technology is needed, but not in Lake Elsinore


Last updated 5/30/2019 at 10:15pm

California currently has a mandate to have all of its energy needs met by renewable resources by 2045, and this goal simply cannot be met with just wind and solar electric generation. The technology of pump storage must be part of the portfolio since it and geothermal are two renewable resources that do not depend on sunlight or wind to produce electricity.

Here in Riverside County, a proposed project known as the Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Project is ideally suited to provide much needed clean energy for consumers across Southern California. Pumped storage is essentially a big battery – it puts electricity onto the grid when wind and solar aren’t generating the necessary power. When the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, water used in pumped storage is sent back up the hill to be reused when the sun goes down and the winds subside to be used again to keep our lights at home in the evening.

There is currently a piece of legislation, Senate Bill 772, that will require the California Independent System Operator, which is essentially the organization in charge of moving electricity around the state, to force electric utilities to use clean energy produced by projects like Eagle Mountain to meet the 100% clean energy goals passed by Legislature in 2018.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation about the intent of SB 772, mostly stemming from another proposed project in Riverside County’s Lake Elsinore community known as the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage project.

Some understandably concerned people in the Lake Elsinore area have speculated that SB 772 is an attempt to “fast track” LEAPS for approval, but nothing is further from the truth. Unlike LEAPS, the Eagle Mountain project, which is located in a remote area of Riverside County near Desert Center, has widespread community support and its transmission lines are nowhere near high-risk wildfire areas.

Unlike LEAPS, the Eagle Mountain project has received tentative support from the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission. Unlike LEAPS, the Eagle Mountain project has widespread community support due to its positive impact on the local environment.

The opponents of the LEAPS project are right to be concerned about the possibility of the project being built – the developers continue to make their case before state and federal officials. However, without the support of the local community, without the support of FERC, without the support of the state of California and without the support of local and state elected officials – including myself, there is very little chance of the project being built.

With the virtual death of LEAPS on the horizon, however, we must still find ways to meet the state’s clean energy goals. Projects like Eagle Mountain and the San Vincente Energy Storage Facility in San Diego County are vitally needed to give us the clean power we need when we need it. These projects are why I am proudly co-authoring SB 772.

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Sen. Jeff Stone represents California’s 28th Senate District. The district, which is entirely in Riverside County, stretches from the vineyards of the Temecula Valley to the Colorado River and includes the cities of Blythe, Canyon Lake, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Murrieta, Temecula, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Wildomar.


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