FERC approves another permit for 400-MW Montana hydro project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Aug. 26 granted GB Energy Park LLC another preliminary permit on the 400-MW Gordon Butte Pumped Storage hydro project in Montana.

On May 1, GB Energy Park filed an application for a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of the proposed Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Project No. 13642, to be located near Martinsdale in Meagher County, Mont. The permit gives the company 36 months to look at the feasibility of the project, with a license application then needed if the decision is to proceed with the project.

The proposed project would include a new powerhouse adjacent to the lower reservoir containing four 100-MW turbine generator units having a total installed capacity of 400 MW; and a new 5.7-mile-long, 500-kV transmission line interconnecting with an existing 500-kV line, or a new 1.1-mile-long, 100-kV transmission line interconnecting to an existing 100-kV line.

For the initial fill of the lower reservoir, GB Energy proposes three options: a two-mile-long existing canal carrying flows from Cottonwood Creek ; a new pipeline from Martinsdale reservoir about four miles away from the project; or an existing private reservoir about three miles away from the project. The proposed project would have an average annual generation of 1,300 gigawatt-hours

Comments on the application were filed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Interior expressed concern that U.S. Bureau of Land Management-managed riparian and other resources depending on flows from Cottonwood Creek and the South Fork and mainstem of the Musselshell River, downstream from the project, could be negatively affected by project-related flow reductions. These issues will be addressed in any licensing process for this project, FERC noted.

The applicant has previously held a preliminary permit for this site under Project No. 13642-000. GB Energy has provided information to commission staff demonstrating that it is currently making progress with the analysis of the project’s feasibility, and towards the development of its proposed project. It is expected that during this permit term, agency consultation will be conducted and a development application will be prepared.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.