Hoover Dam may soon be turned into a giant battery. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has put forward a $3 billion plan to use the dam to help store California’s excess energy.
The idea: pump water back up to Lake Mead using solar and wind energy so that it can go through the dam at a later time. This technology, known as pumped-storage hydroelectricity, isn’t new; it’s been used in several LADWP projects already.
“I think it’s a phenomenal project because it helps solve a challenge we are currently facing,” said Reiko Kerr, senior assistant manager of power systems at LADWP. “The State in general has way too many renewables at the end of the day.” Kerr says this plan is optimal because most of the required infrastructure is already in place.
But adding pumps and pipelines is only one challenge. The plan also requires negotiating a contract across companies, environmental organizations, neighboring communities, and federal agencies. Among other concerns, they must ensure that lake species aren’t impacted, and that recreational water sports can continue to operate normally.
If everything goes to plan, construction should begin in five years.