LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Plans have been drawn up for a proposed water reservoir on top of Blue Diamond Hill, including a hydroelectric power plant near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is hosting a call-in question and comment session Tuesday night to hear from the public about the proposed project. According to FERC, the project pre-application from Control Technology was filed on May 25, 2021, and indicated the plant would annually generate 11,700,000 megawatts depending on demand.

The proposed plan is expected to be built entirely on land currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). At this time, the company has not determined the actual acreage impacted.

Map and diagram showing the proposed location of a hydroelectric plant and reservoirs on Blue Diamond Hill near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. (Image: FERC)

The proposed plant and reservoir, officially called the Blue Diamond Advanced Pumped Storage Project (Blue Diamond Project), works in a closed loop. If built, the upper reservoir would be filled and re-filled by local water districts. When electricity is needed in the area, water would be released through downpipes called penstocks which would speed up the flow of water with gravity until it hits a turbine (or turbines) which would then spin, creating power.

The water would then be collected in a lower reservoir and pumped back up to the upper reservoir to be used again.

According to the proposal, the reservoirs would be dug out and sealed with an impermeable material and covered by a material to lessen evaporation. In a call with FERC Tuesday night, a company official said the visual impact from Hwy. 158 would be minimal and would be a “berm” that could be seen from Blue Diamond.

People can submit questions and comments online or by mail as stated in the document:
Submissions sent via the U.S. Postal Service must be addressed to: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426. Submissions sent via any other carrier must be addressed to: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 12225 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20852. All written or emailed requests must specify your wish to be added to or removed from the mailing list and must clearly identify the following on the first page: Blue Diamond Advanced Pumped Storage Project No. 14804-003.

Planning for this project is expected to last at least two years and take at least six years to complete assuming all licenses are secured.

The FERC document announcing the public comment meeting also lays out plans for studies to determine the impact on land, plants, and animals in the area. This includes desert tortoises, chuckwallas, and Gila monsters. The studies would help determine what mitigation plans would need to be in place and how they would be administered if the project is built.