FERC decides not to extend permit for 250-MW pumped storage project in Pa.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 24 refused to grant another preliminary permit so that Peak Hour Power LLC could retain its exclusive right to study the feasibility of a 250-MW pumped storage hydro project in Pennsylvania.

On Feb. 3, Peak Hour Power filed a timely application for a two-year extension of its existing preliminary permit, due to expire on April 30, for the proposed Silver Creek Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project. The project would be located on Silver Creek in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

In May 2012, commission staff issued Peak Hour Power a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of this project, consisting 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 acrefeet at a normal maximum water surface elevation between 1,650 to 1,750 feet mean sea level (msl); a lower reservoir encompassing the existing Silver Creek Reservoir and neighboring abandoned mine land and having a surface area of 100 acres and a total storage capacity of 10,000 acre-feet at a normal maximum water surface elevation between 1,200 to 1,300 feet msl; a 3,000-foot-long tunnel connecting the upper and lower reservoirs; a powerhouse containing two turbine units with a total rated capacity of 250 MW; and a 230-kV, 2-mile-long transmission line. The project would have an annual generation of 784,750 megawatt-hours.

Sections 4(f) and 5 of the Federal Power Act (FPA) authorize the commission to issue preliminary permits to potential license applicants for a period of up to three years. In 2013, Congress amended the FPA to provide that a preliminary permit term may be extended once for not more than two additional years if the commission finds that the permittee has carried out activities under the permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence.

Peak Hour Power stated that an extension is needed because the first two years of the permit term investors remained reluctant due to the recent recession, but it has seen increased interest and optimism from potential development partners and/or funding sources in recent months and would like to continue with the project.

“Based on staff’s review of the application for extension, as well as the five progress reports submitted under the preliminary permit, Peak Hour Power has not demonstrated that it has carried out activities under the permit with reasonable diligence,” FERC ruled. “The progress reports do not contain evidence of agency consultation, studies performed, or other specific information evidencing progress toward the development of a license application. Rather, the information provided in each of the progress reports is very similar, with each noting an ongoing search for potential investors or partners, and an evaluation of integration of the project with other potential energy projects such as solar and wind generation projects in the area. There is also no evidence of planning activities for completing the requisite Notice of Intent to File an Application for a New License and Pre-Application Document, choosing a licensing process, or conducting the required consultation to support a development application.”

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.