FERC rejects extending permit for 500-MW pumped storage project in Colorado

On Nov. 5, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected an Oct. 1 application from the Dolores Water Conservancy District (DWCD) for a successive preliminary permit for the 500-MW Plateau Creek Pumped Storage Project.

The project would be located on Plateau Creek near the town of Dolores in Montezuma County, Colorado, and would affect approximately 1,000 acres of federal land administered by the Forest Service (in the San Juan National Forest).

In October 2012, commission staff issued DWCD a preliminary permit, good for three years, to study the feasibility of the project, which would consist of these new facilities:

  • an upper reservoir, formed by a 130-foot-high by 6,500-foot-long, roller-compacted concrete or embankment dam, with a total storage capacity of 8,000 acre-feet and a water surface area of 275 acres at full pool elevation;
  • a lower reservoir, formed by a 270-foot-high by 800-foot-long dam, having a total storage capacity of 9,500 acre-feet and a water surface area of 200 acres at full pool elevation;
  • two 15-foot-diameter steel penstocks consisting of a surface penstock, a vertical shaft, and an inclined tunnel;
  • two 27-foot-diameter tailrace tunnels that would be 850-feet-long;
  • an underground powerhouse containing two reversible pump-turbines totaling 500 MW of generating capacity; and
  • a 7-mile-long, 230-kV transmission line that would connect the switchyard with an existing 230-kV interconnection east of the project area.

The project’s annual energy output would vary between 600 and 1,500 gigawatt-hours.

Said FERC in the Nov. 5 order rejecting the permit extension: “During the 36 months DWCD held its initial preliminary permit, it did not file a Notice of Intent or Pre-Application Document to initiate the prefiling consultation and study development needed to develop a license application. Instead, each of the five progress reports that DWCD filed under its preliminary permit were very similar, referencing engineering and environmental feasibility analysis, market assessment, and discussions with utilities and investors, but containing no evidence of agency consultation, studies performed, or other information evidencing progress toward the development of a license application for the proposed project.

“The record under the prior permit shows that DWCD did not pursue the requirements of its prior preliminary permit with due diligence for purposes of receiving a successive permit because it fails to demonstrate progress toward preparing a development application. Therefore, DWCD’s application for a successive preliminary permit for the Plateau Creek Pumped Storage Project is denied.”

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.