Utah board gets extra time to study 345-MW hydro project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on May 14 approved the latest successive preliminary permit for the Utah Board of Water Resources to study the feasibility of a complex, 345-MW hydropower project in two western states.

The board was granted a two-year extension of its successive preliminary permit for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline Project. The proposed project would be located on federal, state, and private lands in Kane, Washington and Iron counties in Utah, and in Coconino and Mohave counties in Arizona.

It would consist of: building and operating 139 miles of 69-inch-diameter pipeline and penstock, 35 miles of 48- to 30-inch-diameter pipeline, and six miles of 24-inch-diameter pipeline; a combined conventional peaking and pumped storage hydro station; five conventional in-pipeline hydro stations; and transmission lines.

A water intake would convey water from the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lake Powell up to a high point within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. From the high point, the water would flow through the pipeline and series of hydroelectric turbines, ending at Sand Hollow reservoir, near St. George, Utah. If the pipeline serves Iron County, the board proposes another pipeline, the Cedar Valley Pipeline System, from the Hurricane Cliffs afterbay reservoir to Cedar Valley in Iron County, Utah.

The board first held a preliminary permit for hydroelectric development on the pipeline under a 2007 permit that expired in 2010. The commission issued the current successive preliminary permit in 2011, which expired on April 30, 2014.

The proposed project’s unique size and complexity, the number of agencies and tribes involved, and the board’s completion of the 23 studies required by the commission, constitute extraordinary circumstances warranting an extension of its successive preliminary permit, FERC ruled. “Granting the Utah Board an additional two years to reserve priority to develop the proposed pipeline’s hydroelectric potential is reasonable given the unique circumstances described above and the Board’s substantial progress and investment during its last permit term,” the commission added in the May 14 order. “Therefore, the request for extension of the preliminary permit term is granted.”

At the time the 2011 successive preliminary permit was issued, the following project components were being studied:

  • an inline single-unit, 1-MW facility at Hydro Station 1 in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument;
  • an inline single-unit, 1.7-MW facility at Hydro Station 2 east of Colorado City, Ariz.;
  • an inline single-unit, 1-MW facility in Hildale City, Utah;
  • an inline single-unit, 1.7-MW facility above the Hurricane Cliffs forebay reservoir;
  • a two-unit, 300-MW (150 MW each unit) pumped storage development at Hurricane Cliffs, with the forebay and afterbay sized to provide ten hours of continuous 300-MW output;
  • a single-unit, 35-MW conventional energy recovery generation unit built within the Hurricane Cliffs development; and
  • a single-unit, 5-MW facility at the existing Sand Hollow Reservoir.
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.