First New Hydroelectric Site Opens in California

The first new hydroelectric generating facilities to be built in California in the past six years have been commissioned.

DIAMOND VALLEY LAKE, California, US, 2001-05-31 [SolarAccess.com] The first new hydroelectric generating facilities to be built in California in the past six years have been commissioned. More than a year ahead of schedule and in time for this summer’s expected energy crunch, Metropolitan Water District has started four units at the Hiram Wadsworth plant at Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet in Riverside County. The four pumps were converted into turbine units, and will generate 13 MW of power, enough for 13,000 homes. The site becomes the 16th hydroelectric facility in MWD’s distribution system. “California’s power crisis has us looking at all facets of our operations for ways to not only decrease our use of electricity, but also to find ways to generate more power and to use alternate sources whenever and wherever we can,” says chairman Phillip Pace. “This may just be a drop in the bucket for California, but we believe that every little bit counts, especially this summer.” The Wadsworth facility could generate up to 40 MW of electricity once all 12 units are converted. The conversion of four units is the first phase of the project. The other 15 hydroelectric facilities generate 102 MW. “Metropolitan built the reservoir to give Southern California a much-needed backup supply of water in the event of a major emergency, like an earthquake or drought,” says Pace. “Today, we get to show how the lake will help the state in a different way.” The hydro units were scheduled to go online next summer, but the conversion was accelerated to increase generating capacity this year. The facility marks the first new hydro generation to be brought online in California since 1995, according to the California Energy Commission. Diamond Valley Lake is the largest drinking water reservoir in southern California and stores water imported from the northern part of the state and the Colorado River. Electricity generated at Diamond Valley Lake will be provided to the California Independent System Operator at market price. Proceeds will offset MWD’s increased costs to deliver water, and the company anticipates a cost increase this year of $110 million. MWD is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 17 million people in six counties.

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