Editor’s Note: This week, Currents looks at some of the places in PG&E’s service area where camping, fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities can be enjoyed – public recreational facilities that are just some of the benefits of PG&E’s hydroelectric generation system and other operations
By Tracy Correa
FRESNO COUNTY — Surrounded by cool mountain landscapes, scenic campsites, fishing access and picnic areas, Wishon and Courtright Reservoirs play an integral role in the Helms Pumped Storage Plant system high in Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Fueled by the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Helms can generate up to 1,212 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 900,000 homes. The plant generates the electricity by pumping water between the two reservoirs — Courtright (elevation 8,200 feet) and Wishon (elevation 6,500 feet).
For the public, this also means recreational access to the reservoirs that make up Helms hydroelectric system – Wishon and Courtright. The area is about two hours northeast of Fresno, up a long and windy Highway 168.
Wishon Reservoir has abundant access to fishing and campgrounds. Lily Pad Campground (6,560 feet elevation) is located on the southwest shore of the reservoir, one of about 15 campsites.
About one mile from the powerhouse is Short Hair Creek fishing access and picnic area. At the Upper Kings River Group Campground, (6,400 feet elevation) groups of 50 can be accommodated.
At the upper Courtright, there are trail and day-use areas and fishing access with 50 parking spaces on the south shore of the lake (8,200 feet elevation).
George Arabia, first hydro clerk at Helms, is one of 24 PG&E workers who live and work in the area and still marvel every day at its natural beauty: “It’s absolutely beautiful. … You just can’t explain it.”
Tomorrow: Lake Almanor, where the Sierra Nevada meet the Cascades.
Email Tracy Correa at email@example.com