Vandenberg East Hydrokinetic – Pumped Storage Project

Pacific Ocean & Lands, Santa Barbara County, Vandenburg, California.

Project Profile & Applicant

FERC Project No.14545 is a proposed Hydrokinetic Pumped Storage Project to be located along the intertidal/nearshore and terrestrial lands in Santa Barbara County, near Vandenburg Air Force Base, California. This proposed 1,338 megawatt (MW) Project is owned by HGE Energy Storage 1, LLC (HGE; a subsidiary of Hydro Green Energy, LLC). The proposed Project would draw seawater from the intertidal zone and pump it up into a proposed land-based reservoir. Seawater would then be allowed to flow downhill back into the Pacific Ocean through a nearshore underground powerhouse to generate power. The proposed Project would consist of the following Facilities: 

An Intertidal Breakwater would create an Intertidal Pool from which a Vertical Intake would pump seawater 100 feet down into an underground Powerhouse/Tailrace. Seawater would be pumped through six Conduits/Penstocks about 10,000 feet uphill into a Land Reservoir (6,152 Acre-Feet) located at about 1,490 feet above mean sea level. Seawater in the Land Reservoir would then gravity-flow downhill through the six Conduits/Penstocks, through the six 223 MW Reversible Variable-speed Pump-turbines in the Powerhouse, and discharge through the Powerhouse/Tailrace back into the Breakwater Pool and the intertidal Pacific Ocean. A 12 mile long, 230 kilovolt, Transmission Line is proposed to connect the Powerhouse into a proposed AC/DC Substation.

Species Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA); and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) with Essential Fish Habitat (EFH):


Southern steelhead DPS (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Endangered / Critical Habitat (71 FR 834, January 5, 2006; 70 FR 52488, September 2, 2005).

Pacific Eulachon/Smelt southern DPS (Thaleichthys pacificus), Proposed Threatened (March 13, 2009; 74 FR 10857).

White Abalone (Haliotis sorenseni), Endangered (66 FR 29046, May 29, 2001).

Black Abalone (Haliotis cracherodii), Endangered / Critical Habitat (74 FR 1937, January 14, 2009; 76 FR 66806, October 27, 2011).

Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Endangered (35 FR 8491, June 2, 1970).

Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Endangered (43 FR 32800, July 28, 1978).

Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Endangered (43 FR 32800, July 28, 1978).

Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Threatened (43 FR 32800, July 28, 1978).


Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Endangered (35 FR 18319, December 2, 1970).

Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), Endangered (35 FR 18319, December 2, 1970).

Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), Endangered (35 FR 18319, December 2, 1970).

Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), Endangered (35 FR 18319, December 2, 1970).

North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), Endangered (35 FR 18319, December 2, 1970).

Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), Endangered (35 FR 18319, December 2, 1970).

Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi), Threatened (50 FR 51252, December 16, 1985).


Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsii), California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), Steller sea lion (Eumetopius jubatus), northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis), Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), dolphin (Lissodelphis borealis), minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), and short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis).


Pacific Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – rockfish, flatfish, shark, lingcod, etc.

Coastal Pelagics FMP - northern anchovy, Pacific sardine, market squid, mackerel.

Highly Migratory Species FMP – albacore, bluefin tuna, common thresher shark, and swordfish.

EFH is defined in the MSA as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.”

FERC Relicensing Status

Preliminary Permit Application (PPA): HGE filed its PPA in August 2013. FERC Noticed the PPA in December 2013. NMFS provided comments and Intervened in February 2014. There has been no further activity since then.


Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC eLibrary, Docket P-14545.