SMUD cancels 400 MW pumped storage hydro project

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District board of directors decided not to build a pumped storage addition to its hydroelectric system in California.

SMUD said cost and financial risks led the utility to cancel the project, which was to be sited along the Upper American River Project at Slab Creek Reservoir in El Dorado County. SMUD’s engineering contractor estimated construction would cost $1.45 billion.

Last year, SMUD reevaluated the need for the energy storage that would have been provided by the 400 MW pumped storage project. The utility determined less than half of the project’s capacity would be needed before 2030. Further analysis determined the project was not financially feasible, and there may be more economical alternatives.

SMUD is also working with the Western Area Power Administration to study the feasibility of adding a new transmission line in the Sacramento Valley that would provide a small boost in its capability to serve peak load.

The Colusa-Sutter Transmission Line project is estimated to cost $240 million. The cancellation of the pumped-storage project will not affect some planned upgrades to the Slab Creek Dam, including installing a boating release valve and recreation improvements in the area.   

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