FERC seeks input on 250-MW Silver Creek Pumped Storage Project in Pennsylvania

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on June 2 went out for comments on a May 1 application from Virterras Hydro Power Inc. for a preliminary permit that would allow it exclusive time to study the feasibility of the 250-MW Silver Creek Pumped Storage Project, to be located on the Silver Creek Reservoir in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

The sole purpose of a preliminary permit, if issued, is to grant the permit holder priority to file a license application during the permit term. A license application would be needed to advance the project beyond the permit stage.

The proposed project would consist of:

  • a new 8,000-foot-long, 125- to 175-foot-high roller-compacted concrete or rock-filled semi-circular dam and/or dike forming an upper reservoir having a surface area of 150 acres and a total storage capacity between approximately 8,000 and 10,000 acre-feet at a normal maximum water surface elevation between approximately 1,650 and 1,750 feet above mean sea level (msl);
  • a lower reservoir encompassing the existing Silver Creek Reservoir and neighboring abandoned mines 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 and 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 2-mile-long transmission line connecting to an existing 230-kV line or a 4,000-foot-long transmission line connecting to an existing 69-kV line.

The proposed project would have an annual generation of 784,750 megawatt-hours.

The applicant contact us: Kirk McAfee, Virterras Hydro Power Inc., Glenmaura Professional Center, 72 Glenmaura Blvd., Suite 105, Moosic, PA 18057, phone: 707-888-2892.

The deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, competing applications (without notices of intent), or notices of intent to file competing applications is 60 days from the issuance of this June 2 notice.

The lower reservoir for this project will be created by coal mining and reclamation at the site of the existing Silver Creek Reservoir, as well as contiguous areas of abandoned mine land that remain dangerous and unabated for more than sixty years. This area is at the heart of Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal fields and is riddled with abandoned mine works left unreclaimed prior to passage of a 1977 federal law that required reclamation of all future mine sites.

Private owners control the mineral rights to the coal located beneath the existing reservoir as well as more than 250 acres of surface rights surrounding the reservoir. If these private landowners agree, the recovery and sale of coal from the site would help offset the cost of pumped storage development, the application noted. The engineered excavation created by the coal mining and reclamation process would form the lower reservoir.

The 230-kV line is a segment of a larger transmission corridor connecting PPL’s Frackville switchyard and substation in Frackville, Schuylkill County, with PPL’s Siegfried switchyard and substation in Allen Township, Northampton County, Pa. The 69-kV line to the south is otherwise known as the Frackville-Hauto segment running from the PPL Frackville switchyard to the PPL Hauto switchyard in Nesquehoning Borough in Carbon County, Pa.

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.