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Lake Elsinore Advanced Pump Storage (LEAPS) Project Update

FERC Responds to Requests for Additional Studies, Some City Requests Approved

Post Date:06/21/2018 8:41 AM

June 21, 2018 Update: 

On Friday, June 15, 2018 the Federal Energy Commission (FERC) responded to the additional study requests from the City and eight other resources agencies. The City submitted its request for additional studies on December 1, 2017.

Additional study requests by the City included: updating Geotechnical reports, updating Biological Resource Study, Shoreline Erosion and Turbidity Study, Recreational Needs, Effect of Daily Lake Elevation Fluctuations on Existing Recreation Facilities, updating and expanding Visual Simulations, updating Cultural Resource Assessment, updated Construction Traffic Analysis, Noise and Vibration Assessment, and a Property Value Assessment. 

The City was able to successfully argue and convince FERC to require additional studies related to the geotechnical impacts, some water quality, aesthetic impacts, traffic and cultural resources. The others were denied. Other studies approved as requested by other agencies included seismic hazard, total nitrogen, phosphorus, and cyanotoxin, operation efficiency and water quality, updated surveys for federally threatened and endangered species, vegetation mapping study plan, fire study and alternative transmission alignments. 

The deadline for Nevada Hydro to submit the additional studies is set for September 13, 2018.

Previous Updates:

January 18, 2018 Update:

On Monday, January 8th the City received a copy of a Deficiency of License Application and Request for Additional Information letter sent to The Nevada Hydro Company regarding their proposed Lake Elsinore Advanced Pump Storage (LEAPS) Project.

The letter was sent by the Federal Energy Commission (FERC) and states that Nevada Hydro's application was not complete (i.e. does not conform to the requirements of the Commission's regulations) and requested additional information. 

Among the additional information requested, FERC asked Nevada Hydro to identify a specific source of water to maintain the operational level of Lake Elsinore above 1240 feet, assess the availability of water, and coordinate with the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District and the City of Lake Elsinore to develop a reservoir operation plan for related to the ongoing operation and maintenance of the Lake. 

Nevada Hydro has 90 dates from the date of this letter, January 3, 2018, to respond to the letter. 

December 12, 2017 Update:

City staff provided an update to our City Council about the LEAPS project proposed in and near our City. 

In addition, the City Council approved an agreement for government relations and legislative advocacy services in Washington DC to regularly monitor this project and advocate on behalf of the City to ensure our community's best interests are protected as this project makes its way through the federal licensing process. This includes engaging the congressional delegation and federal agencies to raise awareness about the project and its potential impacts to our community.

December 21, 2017:

The Nevada Hydro Company issued its response to study requests. The deadline to file additional study requests with FERC was December 1, 2017. The City did issue a request for additional studies. 

About the Proposed Project

The LEAPS Project is a hydroelectric project, which consists of an upper and lower reservoir with a set of tunnels running between them. When electrical energy is in high demand, the water in the upper reservoir is released through tunnels flowing down to turbines at the powerhouse. The upper reservoir becomes, in effect, a source of stored energy.

For LEAPS, the Lake would serve as the “lower reservoir” and the upper reservoir would be constructed in the Cleveland National Forest at Decker Canyon (just south of State Route 74). The pump/powerhouse facility would be located near the Lake on the west side of Grand Avenue in the Lakeland Village area (and is typically referred to as the Santa Rosa Powerhouse). To power the pumps and deliver the generated electricity onto the state’s electrical grid, LEAPS also involves the construction of approximately 32 miles of 500 kV transmission lines and towers.

The project applicant, Nevada Hydro, has proposed a grid interconnect near Lee Lake to the north. The transmission lines will travel south largely within the Cleveland National Forest and connect to the powerhouse. The powerhouse will also be connected by 500 kV lines and towers traveling further south primarily through the National Forest to an interconnect point adjacent to Camp Pendleton. The 500 kV lines in the general vicinity of the powerhouse will be undergrounded.

LEAPS is designed to generate approximately 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity typically lasting 12 hours. By way of comparison, the former San Onofre nuclear facility could produce approximately 2,150 MW.

Nevada Hydro is currently seeking a permit to operate LEAPS from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). While the City is fully participating in the formal FERC licensing process, concerns remain about coordinating the efforts of federal agencies which the City believes have a shared interest in improving the Lake and ensuring that federal agencies fully understand the City’s position and concerns related to the project.

The City of Lake Elsinore will continue to monitor and inform our community as this project makes its way through the federal approval process to ensure our best interests are protected.

Additional Project Information:

View FERC's Letter regarding Deficiencies and Request for Additional Information to The Nevada Hydro Company 

View Nevada Hydro Company's Response to FERC's Deficiency and Information Request  - April 3, 2018 

View Nevada Hydro Response to Study Requests to FERC 

View Staff Update Presentation on December 12, 2017

View Staff Report from December 12, 2017

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