California wants to turn the Hoover Dam into a pool of electricity
It’s Wednesday, July 25, and California wants to turn the Hoover Dam into a pool of electricity.
Hot dam! Los Angeles has big plans for the Hoover Dam. The city wants to turn it into a big battery — a $3 billion reservoir of renewable energy.
The Hoover Dam was the signature feature of the American West for a stretch in the mid-1900s. Situated on the Colorado River right between Arizona and Nevada, the dam essentially allowed the West to develop. It still provides hydroelectric power for over a million people.
The dam could serve another pivotal role in the 21st century — helping California achieve its dream of going green. Here’s the plan: The L.A. Department of Water and Power wants to stick a $3 billion pipeline and pump station, fueled by wind and solar energy, on the Colorado River, about 20 miles downriver from Lake Mead, the giant reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam.
The snazzy, multi-billion-dollar station would help with a crucial aspect of managing the energy grid: peak energy times. See, when the sun shines super bright on California’s solar panels, but there isn’t a huge need for that energy, the state has to offload that excess power somewhere or risk overloading the grid. Conversely, when there’s an enormous demand for energy (like powering air conditioners during this, uh, massive heatwave), California has to rely on fossil fuels to make up the slack. The Hoover Dam proposal could help with both of those problems. It would use excess energy to pump water up the Colorado River and then supply the grid with energy when that water comes back down through the dam’s turbines.
For a visual breakdown of the proposal, check out this New York Times story.
It’s a win-win! Sort of. The plan is just a proposal right now, and there are a host of environmental and political concerns to tackle before the project goes live. After all, a lot of people in a lot of states rely on the Colorado River for drinking water, recreation, and more.
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too damn high
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