Environmental Protection

New Hydroelectric Project to Begin in Sacramento

The SMUD project would utilize an existing reservoir on the American River, from which water would be pumped up to a new 6,400 acre-foot capacity upper reservoir, where the water would be stored.

GEI Consultants, Inc. will be providing certain Owner’s Engineer services for the proposed Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) Iowa Hill Pumped-Storage Development project. SMUD recently awarded the Jacobs Associates team the Owner’s Engineer services contract for preliminary design and construction services on their proposed Iowa Hill Pumped-Storage Project. If constructed, Iowa Hill would be a 400 megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility located near the town of Camino, roughly 50 miles (80 km) east of Sacramento.

GEI will lead the design of the 6,400 acre-foot upper reservoir, a lined impoundment that will be formed by an earth- and rock-fill dam with a maximum height of more than 200 feet and a crest length of 5,900 feet. The design of the dam and reservoir will be under the regulatory authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the California Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD).

The project would utilize an existing reservoir on the American River, from which water would be pumped up to a new 6,400 acre-foot capacity upper reservoir, where the water would be stored. During peak electrical demand periods, water would flow from the upper  reservoir to the lower reservoir via a 1,000-foot-deep (305 m) shaft through 3,500 feet (1,067 m) of water tunnels. The electricity generated would connect the existing transmission line that connects SMUD’s existing Upper American River hydroelectric project with the District’s customers.

“Jacobs Associates has assembled an outstanding team to provide the Owner’s Engineer services for the proposed Iowa Hill Pumped-Storage Project,” said Jacobs Associates Principal Mike McRae. “Our team is thrilled to have the opportunity to support SMUD on the planning and feasibility of this major pumped-storage hydroelectric project.”

The team began the geotechnical investigation’s drilling program in December. The drilling program will include a geotechnical exploratory drift (tunnel) from the surface to the proposed underground powerhouse cavern vicinity. The results of the drilling program will help SMUD determine whether the Iowa Hill project site is viable for construction of the tunnels and underground cavern that would house the generating equipment.

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