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Hydroelectric Plant Opens Year Ahead Of Schedule

New Plant Can Produce 13 Megawatts Of Electricity

HEMET, Calif., 3:22 p.m. EDT May 30, 2001 --

A new hydroelectric facility began generating power Wednesday, a full year earlier than initially expected.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will run four turbines at the Diamond Valley Lake reservoir capable of producing 13 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power about 9,750 homes.

"In this crisis, every kilowatt counts," MWD general manager Ronald Gastelum said.

According to the California Energy Commission, the power plant is the first new hydroelectric facility in the state in six years.

The four hydroelectric turbines were retrofitted onto the $2 billion reservoir's pumps after the state entered into the energy crisis.

If all 12 pumps are altered to produce power, the facility could produce about 40 megawatts, enough for nearly 30,000 homes. The cost to retrofit all the pumps is an estimated $4.5 million.

The Diamond Valley reservoir opened in March 2000 and is scheduled to hold 800,000 acre-feet of water when full. Power will be generated by running water through the turbines before it is sent to water agencies in Riverside and San Diego counties.

The energy produced at Diamond Valley will be sold to the state's Independent System Operator, instead of Southern California Edison Co. or Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Those two companies already owe the MWD about $2 million each, which prompted the decision to sell to Cal-ISO.

The four, 6,000-horsepower pumps were converted in the past two months after gaining fast-track approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The MWD also is considering improvements to its transmission lines to draw more power from hydroelectric plants at Hoover and Parker dams on the Colorado River.

-- PHO (, May 30, 2001

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