The Helms Pumped Storage Facility (Helms) is 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 Helms 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. In fact, Helms can go from a dead stop to full generation in 6.5 minutes.
The Helms facility is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains approximately 50 miles northeast of Fresno in Fresno County.
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 PGE produce some of the cleanest energy of any utility in the nation.
Key Developers and Partners
- City of Helms
- Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)
Type of Project
The Helms facility has been operating for more than 20 years employing full-time 24 local residents.
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