Download Leaps Update
What is your timeline for the proposed LEAPS project?

We filed our Final License Application with FERC on October 2, 2017, which will be subject to regulatory review, including public consultation, information, and stakeholder input.   After receipt of regulatory approvals, we expect acquisition of water and property rights and the construction period will take 4 to 5 years.  Ideally, the LEAPS project could be supplying electricity to the California grid by late 2022 or early 2023.

Why was the proposed site selected?

Lake Elsinore and its adjacent mountain range provide the unique geographical topography required to construct a pumped storage facility.  The sharp difference in elevation between two neighboring reservoirs allows the gravitational force to power turbine generators when water is transferred from the upper to the lower reservoir. The topography required for pumped storage is rare, which is one of the primary limiting factors of constructing more pumped storage plants worldwide.

What is Pumped Storage?

Pumped storage stores energy in the form of water in an upper reservoir, pumped from a lower reservoir. During peak usage, the energy is released from the upper reservoir, flowing downhill through a turbine to generate electricity.  During off-peak usage,  lower-cost electricity from the grid is used to reverse the turbines and pump the water back uphill.  These plants are very efficient, some boasting up to 85% efficiency, and all without the environmental impacts of generation from coal, oil and gas, or nuclear or electricity storage using batteries.

Pumped storage is a tried and true “renewable” technology which has been in use since the 1920’s and remains the most efficient forms of large scale hydroelectric storage, with a lifespan over 100 years.

Why is Energy Storage important to California?

Energy storage is a vital asset to the stability and reliability of our electrical grid.  Wind and solar, although great sources of renewable energy, are “intermittent”, making it difficult to rely on them when we need it most.  Energy storage is reliable and enables us to maximize intermittent renewable energy and apply it to the grid when demand is the greatest.  One of the most important benefits storage provides is that it can be brought on line quickly to allow load balancing,  facilitating grid stability and reliability, helping to prevent blackouts and other issues.

The proposed LEAPS project is the most advanced, large-scale pumped hydro storage project in the USA, and can to offer benefits to electricity customers in California as early as 2022.

How will this project benefit our community?

The LEAPS project looks forward to positively augmenting the local Temescal Valley through;

-significant construction jobs and 20-30 permanent operating jobs after the 4-5 year construction period,

-Indirect employment created in the hospitality and service sector,

-Generation of municipal and state taxes and fees, and

-Contributions through partnerships with community organizations.

What employment and business opportunities will be available?

The LEAPS project will  create almost 600 direct, mostly union jobs over the 4-5 year construction phase.  That equates to almost five million person hours of employment.  There will also be indirect employment and business opportunities in the Temescal Valley during and after construction.    Once built, LEAPS will require 20-30 permanent employees for the operation and maintenance of the plant and facilities.

Where will the electricity generated be used?

Another geographical benefit of the LEAPS project is its ability to benefit both the SCE and SDGE grids.   Located at the southern end of the SCE system and connecting to SDGE’s northernmost substation, the project benefits can be shared by residents of Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles and Riverside.

What new facilities will be required?

One of the great benefits of pumped storage is that its infrastructure is mostly underground, consisting of penstock and a power station housing the turbines.  These facilities, located between the two reservoirs will be tunneled through the mountain range.   The underground location will minimize the aesthetic impact.

Is the transmission going to be visible from my home?

Extensive time and care was taken when routing the transmission in order to minimize aesthetic impact and maximize the distance from homes.  While most of the transmission system is veiled by hillsides and natural barriers, certain towers may be seen from vantage points in open areas such as the 15 freeway. Our surveying team is prepared to help field any concerns you have regarding tower aesthetics and, in some cases, can even provide 3d modeling of the proposed transmission from various vantage points. If you have any specific questions or concerns on the transmission in your area, please contact our team by phone at (760) 599-1813.

What will be the impact on water quality?

The LEAPS project is committed to improving the water quality of Lake Elsinore. The Lake has historically suffered from various water quality issues stemming from its shallow depth and lack of aeration.  As suggested by a recent UC Riverside study, the water transfer between the two reservoirs can improve the aeration of the Lake.  Better aeration can help reduce the ongoing issues such as fish kills and algal overgrowth.  The upper reservoir could also contribute to efforts to maintain water levels in times of drought.

The LEAPS proponents have commissioned research into water quality and quantity in Lake Elsinore.  We believe the project will improve water quality and further enable water management in the valley.  When these studies are completed, they will be reported on the LEAPS website and as part of the FERC process.  LEAPS will require a Section 401 water quality permit and will obtain all required water rights.

LEAPS has pledged to work with its team of scientists and the community to enhance the lake and its recreational opportunities.

What will be the impact on recreational use?

The LEAPS project operations will not pose any harm to boaters, humans, fish or recreation on the lake.  In fact, changes to the lake will be mostly unnoticeable.  The LEAPS project infrastructure is located deep beneath the earth and the surface of the water.  Researchers are optimistic that recreation will benefit from the expected water quality improvements that LEAPS will bring to Lake Elsinore.

Do you have water and property rights for the projects?

The LEAPS team expects to obtain all necessary water ad property rights to operated the proposed project within five years of receiving a license from FERC.

Why have you routed transmission lines by existing residential developments?

The FLA includes a number of revisions to the original project’s transmission routes to address issues raised by stakeholders.  We adopted recommendations by FERC staff by moving parts of the northern and southern transmission lines and will run parts underground to avoid some recreational areas used by hang gliders.

Residents we have spoken with or who have filed comments with FERC are concerned about the aesthetics of the proposed transmission lines traversing the valley.  We intend to meet with residents of Lake Elsinore, Sycamore Creek, Sycamore Hills, Serrano Ridge, Horsethief Canyon Ranch, and Glen Eden to discuss their concerns and show conceptual views of the transmission towers from various vantage points in the valley.  The LEAPS proponents believe the transmission facilities will be less conspicuous than some people have suggested.

Why are you not holding any meetings to get public input?

We have a great deal of public and agency input from the 15 years the project has been in development.  We are committed to meeting with agencies, municipalities and others as directed by FERC and to holding an open house for potentially impacted residents.  In the near term, we will be talking with various stakeholders and reviewing resident inputs to date on the FERC site and updating this website to provide as much information as possible as it becomes available.

Now that we have filed our Final License Application, we are bound by the regulatory process and timelines.  FERC has said it is confident that its post-filing procedures will provide sufficient opportunity for stakeholders to comment on our application.

We will provide more information pertaining to the project, the proposed transmission route, sightlines from communities, illustrations of the proposed transmission tower array, and answers to frequently asked questions on the LEAPS website in the coming weeks. We expect to hold an open house to discuss the LEAPS project and receive input from the communities adjacent to the  transmission line route at the appropriate time.  We will provide notice of the open house on the LEAPS website, verbally, by email, and through notices in local newspapers.

What environmental studies have you done to update the old application?

The LEAPS team has assembled a large amount of information for the original Project No. 11858 process. We recognize that some incremental updates will be required, and we will work with residents and the appropriate agencies and Indian tribes to address any outstanding issues.

The LEAPS Project proponents have done a significant amount of work to keep environmental studies and consultation with relevant agencies fresh in accordance with a 2015 directive from FERC regarding Nevada Hydro’s ability to update and refile relevant information from the previous Project 11858 proceeding as part of a license application for this updated project.

How will the water level of Lake Elsinore fluctuate due to operation of LEAPS?

We anticipate that the water level will fluctuate no more than plus or minus 6 inches. LEAPS operations will not pose any harm to boaters, humans, fish or recreation on the lake.

The LEAPS team is committed to improving the water quality of Lake Elsinore, which has historically suffered from various issues due to its shallow depth and lack of aeration.  A recent UC Riverside study suggests that the proposed regular water transfer by LEAPS between the lake and the upper reservoir could improve aeration, helping to reduce fish kills and algal overgrowth.  The project could also contribute to water management. LEAPS has commissioned further research into water quality and quantity in Lake Elsinore, which will be reported on the LEAPS website as part of the FERC licensing process.

Once operational, LEAPS could provide a source of non–governmental funds to implement projects regulators decide are needed, such as helping to fund experts and needed studies or establish diverse aquatic plant communities that may increase biodiversity and improve water quality.

What will LEAPS do to prevent wildfires?

The 500 kV high voltage primary transmission lines that will connect the LEAPS project to the grid are different from the lower-voltage residential and business connections that have been associated with fires in the past. A third party expert has researched the available data and found no fires started by 500 kV transmission lines.

All 500 kV lines feature differential protection relays at both ends of the line that “talk” to each other constantly. If the communication does not result in a zero net flow difference or if there is any loss of communication, they initiate a line trip using circuit breakers at both ends of the line.  This de-energizes the line in less than one tenth of a second, so the probability of a fire igniting is very low.

Nevada Hydro is committed to developing an industry-leading fire prevention protocol and will also implement a rigorous vegetation management program on the transmission right of way.  This can be monitored by camera, drones or physical inspection, reducing fuel sources and further limiting the opportunity for fire near transmission towers and lines.

The creation of a new reservoir in Decker Canyon will provide a new, convenient source of water high on the mountain in the Cleveland National Forest for fire suppression.