An abandoned mine near Joshua Tree could host a massive hydropower project

An abandoned iron mine on the doorstep of Joshua Tree National Park could be repurposed as a massive hydroelectric power plant under a bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature.

Senate Bill 772, which was approved by a panel of lawmakers last week with no dissenting votes, would require California to build energy projects that can store large amounts of power for long periods of time. It’s a type of technology the state is likely to need as utility companies buy more and more energy from solar and wind farms, which generate electricity only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.

But SB 772 is a controversial solution to that problem. The bill could jump-start a $2.5-billion hydropower project that critics say would harm Joshua Tree National Park, draining desert groundwater aquifers and sapping above-ground springs that nourish wildlife in and around the park.

The bill is being pushed by NextEra Energy, a Florida-based company that hopes to build the proposed Eagle Mountain hydropower project.

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An abandoned mine near Joshua Tree could host a massive hydropower project, by Sammy Roth, The Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2019.

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