First Shasta now Hoover Dam Getting an Upgrade

And it looks like a pretty big one, as this story from CBS News reports; pretty good dam news lately.

An excerpt.

Hoover Dam is one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century. Built during the Great Depression, it was the biggest public works project in the country. Now, as California and the West expand into renewable energy, there’s a $3 billion plan to bring the power plant into the 21st century.

Close to a million people come each year to the Arizona-Nevada border to be awed by the mighty dam, a 726-feet high wall of concrete housing 17 power generators, reports CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas.

“3.25 million cubic yards of concrete. Basically you could pave a road from San Francisco to New York with the concrete in the dam,” Len Schilling said. He manages the Hoover Dam, which provides power to three states and water to more than 20 million people, producing enough power to support more than a million homes.

The generators take in water from Lake Mead. The water is funneled through spinning turbines to create electricity. Then the water is released to flow down stream. Los Angeles is its largest customer. “Fifty-five percent to California, 25 percent to Nevada, and then 20 percent to Arizona customers,” Schilling said.

The dam was built to tame the Colorado River after devastating floods. Now the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is looking to turn it into a giant energy storage system, similar to the job a battery performs.

“In fact it’s one of the simplest technologies: pump water up hill when there’s too much energy and let it run down hill when there’s not enough energy,” said David Wright, general manager of the Department of Water and Power. They have already implemented the plan that works on a much smaller scale in Castaic, California.

“This isn’t something we’re looking at lightly. This is something that has been thought about and now it’s, let’s look at the engineering, let’s look at the feasibility,” Wright said.

The project calls for a wind- and solar-powered pump station to be built 20 miles downstream. Water would be pumped back up to Lake Mead through underground pipes and sent back down during periods of higher demand.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a proponent of green energy, is also behind the plan.

“You’re talking about a price tag of $3 billion. That’s a lot of money,” Yuccas said.

“The cost of inaction is more,” Garcetti responded. “We’ve got drought and fires in the West… We’re going to be talking about 100 billions, trillions of dollars of costs if we don’t confront climate change now.”

Retrieved September 28, 2018 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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