CALIFORNIA CLEAN ENERGY TOUR
HELMS PUMPED STORAGE FACILITY

Helms is Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s largest hydroelectric facility, and the largest pumped hydroelectric storage project in California.

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.

See more information about PG&E's Hydroelectric System.

View of Lake Wishon Exterior of Helms Pumped Storage Facility The three turbine generators at the Helms Pumped Storage Facility

Photos of Lake Wishon and turbine generators courtesy of PG&E. Photo of exterior of Helms courtesy of the California Energy Commission.

 

Benefits

  • 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

Hydroelectric Storage

Status

In operation since 1984 with 24 full-time employees.

 

Map of Helms Pumped Storage Facility in California
 

SEE LOCATIONS ON THE TOUR

Alta Wind Energy Center

Wind

CleanWorld Sacramento BioDigester

Anaerobic digester

Desert Sunlight Solar Farm

Solar photovoltaic

Electric Vehicles International

Electric vehicle manufacturing

The Geysers

Geothermal

Helms Pumped Storage Facility

Hydroelectric storage

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

Solar thermal

Mendota Bioenergy, LLC

Biorefinery demonstration

Playa Vista Elementary School

Green school

Public Electric Vehicle Charging at the South Coast Air Quality Management District

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Santa Rita Jail

Smart grid/solar/wind/fuel cell/advanced energy storage/solar thermal

UC Davis West Village

Zero net energy mixed use, multi-unit housing communities