Placeholder Imagephoto credit: courtesy Hydro Green Energy

Local conservationists have scheduled a meeting Thursday to discuss a coordinated response to a recently proposed hydro-electric power plant near Fort Ross.

The project won preliminary approval from federal energy regulators in June, clearing the way for further study and enabling developers, HGE Energy Storage 3 LLC, to apply for permits if they wish.

It would use low-cost electricity at night to pump ocean water into a reservoir on a bluff, then release the water through electricity generating turbines when demand, and retail prices for electricity are higher.

Preliminary designs call for a 23-acre, 5,600 acre-foot reservoir at 1,600 feet above sea level and a buried powerhouse. As currently conceived, the project would produce 1,250 megawatts. That's more than the average output of the geothermal field at The Geysers.

The preliminary approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC, has caused major concerns among local environmentalists, saying the project would harm aquatic and near shore habitats, along with introducing an industrial structure along a largely undisturbed section of coastline.

Invited speakers at Thursday evening's meeting include retired congresswoman Lynn Woolsey; superintendent of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Maria Brown; Richard Charter of The Ocean Foundation; and Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins.

The meeting, at the Jenner Community Center on Highway One, is scheduled to begin at 7 pm on Aug. 17.

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