Developer explores pumped storage project at surface mine site

Peak Hour Power LLC has hopes of developing a potential 300-MW pumped storage hydro facility in the heart of Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region.

Peak Hour Power and Paul DiRenzo Jr. first filed an application for a preliminary FERC permit to study the feasibility of the Silver Creek Pumped Storage Hydro Project in December 2011. The project would be located in Schuylkill County, Pa.

FERC then granted the firm the permit to explore feasibility in May 2012.

The FERC preliminary permit number is P-14336. Peak Hour Power is currently seeking financial partners, a project official said April 23.

The proposed Silver Creek Pumped Storage Project would consist of a new 8,000-foot-long, 125 to 175-foot-high roller-compacted concrete semi-circular dam forming an upper reservoir having a surface area of 150 acres and a total storage capacity between approximately 6,138 and 9,207 acre-feet at a normal maximum water surface elevation between 1,650 to 1,750 feet mean sea level (msl) and a lower reservoir encompassing the existing Silver Creek Reservoir and neighboring abandoned mined land and having a surface area of 100 acres.

There would be a total storage capacity of 10,000 acre-feet at a normal maximum water surface elevation between 1,200 to 1,300 feet msl, according to FERC documents filed last spring.

The project would also include electricity infrastructure, including a powerhouse, turbines and a 230-kV, two-mile transmission line. The project would have an annual generation of 784,750 MWh, according to the 2012 FERC document.

The developer has indicated that surface coal production would occur and help defray the construction costs.

The project, however, faces local opposition. The Township of Blythe and the Blythe Township Municipal Authority have filed opposing comments, saying the project could destroy the Silver Creek Reservoir owned by the Authority and used as the primary source of drinking water for thousands of families.

Some parties have also filed comments in support of the project, according to the FERC filing.

Direnzo Coal first broached the idea of the pumped storage project on the surface coal site in 2006. Peak Hour Power is based in Pottsville, Pa. More on the Silver Creek proposal is available at a website: http://www.opportunityforblythe.com/

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.