The Helms Pumped Storage Facility is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains about 50 miles east of Fresno in Fresno County. Helms is Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) largest hydroelectric facility, and the largest pumped hydroelectric storage project in California.
Helms produces and stores up to 1,212 megawatts of electricity by moving water between Courtright Lake at a higher elevation and Lake Wishon at a lower elevation. The facility uses three reversible turbine generators to pump water uphill when the demand for electricity is low. Water is released downhill to regenerate electricity when the demand is high. Pumped hydroelectric storage facilities can increase power output quickly – Helms can go from a dead stop to full generation in 6.5 minutes.
Photos of Lake Wishon and turbine generators courtesy of PG&E. Photo of exterior of Helms courtesy of the California Energy Commission.
The facility can produce enough energy to power 900,000 average California households.
Pumped hydroelectric storage is used to help bridge intermittency in renewable power generation.
The facility generates carbon-free energy, helping PG&E produce some of the cleanest energy of any utility in the nation.
Type of Project
In operation since 1984 with 24 full-time employees.
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