Clean Power seeks permit on 1,200-MW pumped storage project in Washington

Clean Power Development LLC filed a Nov. 2 application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a preliminary permit covering three years of feasibility work on the 1,200-MW Columbia Gorge Renewable Energy Balancing Project, which would be a closed-loop, pumped-storage hydro system.

The proposed Columbia Gorge Renewable Energy Balancing Project is located approximately eight miles southeast of the City of Goldendale in Klickitat County, Washington. It would be a brownfield redevelopment of the former Columbia Gorge Aluminum smelter that closed in 2003.

“The reuse of this site and the associated water right would provide staggering local and regional economic development,” said the application. “All structures on the site have been demolished with the exception of one building and a small active wastewater treatment plant. Currently, the process is ongoing for site-wide cleanup by NSC Smelter, LLC and Lockheed Martin Corporation with a finalized Washington State Department of Ecology Agreed Order No. 10483 in the matter of remedial action pursuant to the Model Toxics Control Act and the requirements of Washington Administrative Code Dangerous Waste Regulations 173-303-646-64630.”

Clean Power said it will consult closely with potentially liable persons and the Washington State Department of Ecology to best understand, align and prioritize efforts for optimal compatibility and mutual benefit of all parties with the pumped storage project and the site cleanup action plan.

“The Project would utilize variable-speed pump-turbine generator units and provide critical balancing services and renewable energy flexible capacity to utilities in the Pacific Northwest and potentially California to decarbonize the electric power system cost-effectively,” said the application. “The Project is strategically located at the northern terminus of the AC-DC Interties operated by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and the California Independent System Operator (CA-ISO). The AC-DC Interties allow for the bulk seasonal exchanges of power between British Columbia, Canada, the Northwest and California. In addition to BPA’s secondary hydropower sold to California, this high-voltage transmission infrastructure facilitates the export of over 36% or 3,150 megawatts (MW) of Northwest wind capacity presently contracted to utilities outside the region.”

The project’s location can support the daily inter-regional exchanges of California’s massive mid-day solar oversupply and the significant power generation ramping needed by CA-ISO, said the application. This gigantic solar oversupply and ramping need problem is further exacerbated by California’s 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard signed into law on Oct. 7 by Gov. Jerry Brown, the company added.

The preferable reservoir configuration and location will be determined by the Applicant during the preliminary permit term in order to maximize available head and minimize tunnel length within the terrain, geologic, power system need and environmental constraints of the project study area. The proposed project will use water from Columbia River for the initial fill of the lower reservoir and a small amount of makeup water as needed using an existing pumping station largely in a “closed-loop” system. The line shaft turbine pumps are 600 horsepower, 3,500 gpm with a total capacity of approximately 35.3 cfs. The existing pumps are submersed in a lagoon separated from the Columbia River by a BSNF Railway railroad embankment and right-of-way. The lagoon is connected to the river by a culvert and is upstream from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers John Day Lock and Dam in Lake Umatilla.

Public Utility District No. 1 of Klickitat County owns a 15,591 ac-ft/year water right from the former aluminium smelter. This water right was gifted to the public utility district by a quickclaim deed executed in 2005. After legal transfer of ownership, this water right was amended for municipal purposes. As mandated by the Washington Department of Ecology, the water right must be put to beneficial use by 2028. Subsequently, a 2012 state law expressly authorized Public Utility District No. 1 to use this water right for a pumped storage generating facility and authorizes it to sell water for pumped storage projects. Clean Power said it anticipates negotiating with Public Utility District No. 1 for use and appropriate fair-market compensation of this water right if the proposed project is determined economically viable.

At this time, the project’s proposed transmission interconnection is the existing BPA Harvalum Substation located within the study area project boundary. The length of the 230-kV transmission line from the proposed powerhouse step-up transformers to the Harvalum Substation is approximately 3,000 feet.

The rated maximum gross head of the project is 2,000 feet and the estimated maximum discharge is 7,000 cfs. The maximum potential total installed capacity is up to 1,200 MW (4 × 300 MW). However, economic modeling, cost-benefit analysis, system need and market will determine the optimal size and configuration that could be as small as 300 MW and on par with a typical carbon-emitting natural gas-fired power project. The project will utilize Francis type variable-speed, pump-turbines units with an overall cycle efficiency for pumping and generating of approximately 80% and a power factor of 0.9. The estimated annual energy production generating 8 to 10 hours a day, 7 days a week is 2,558 GWh.

On the same day (Nov. 2) that this application was filed, FERC sent this response to Clean Power: “Your preliminary permit application filed on November 2, 2015, for the Columbia Gorge Renewable Energy Balancing Project No. 14724-000, conflicts with the preliminary permit issued to Public Utility District No. 1 of Klickitat County, Washington (Klickitat PUD) for the proposed JD Pool Pumped Storage Project No. 13333.  Klickitat PUD’s permit stipulates an expiration date of October 31, 2015. Because October 31, 2015 falls on a weekend day, the permit does not expire until the close of business of the next business day, or Monday, November 2, 2015.”

A project contact is: Nate Sandvig, President, Clean Power Development LLC, PO Box 5734, Portland, OR 97228, Telephone: (971) 229-1949,

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.