Major energy storage project proposed near Lebec along California Aqueduct
California’s energy future keeps pointing to Kern. The latest 10-figure energy storage proposal in the county is a damlike “pumped hydro” project connected to the California Aqueduct that would store and release 3,500 gigawatt-hours of power per year on or near Tejon Ranch.
There’s no money yet for it or a similar proposal the same Los Angeles County engineering and development group disclosed in December that would be located next to Isabella Lake. But the latter has attracted interest from one of the world’s largest oil producers, the developer’s managing director said. “The market is very active right now,” Victor Rojas at Walnut-based Premium Energy Holdings LLC said. “There is a lot of storage activity investment and the oil companies are very active, too, and they are seizing now, moving into this energy transmission business.” He declined to identify the oil company his firm is talking with but noted the U.S. Department of Energy is interested, too.
Both of Premium’s pumped-storage proposals are engaged in a federal application process that will succeed only if they can secure big investments — probably a mix of public and private money repaid in time by utility ratepayers — for the kind of infrastructure critical to California’s aggressive transition to renewable energy.