FERC rejects permit app for 80-MW pumped storage hydro project in Idaho

Saying the company doesn’t have clearance from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to pursue this project, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 25 rejected a November 2014 application from Owyhee Hydro LLC for a preliminary permit on the proposed Anderson Ranch Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project.

The project would be located at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Anderson Ranch dam and reservoir on the South Fork of the Boise River near Mountain Home in Elmore County, Idaho.

Three alternative designs were proposed.

  • Alternative A would use the existing Anderson Ranch dam, reservoir (as the lower reservoir), powerhouse, tailrace, and transmission lines, and would include a single 80-MW reversible pump turbine/generator to be located within the third bay of Reclamation’s existing powerhouse.
  • Alternative B would be identical to Alternative A except during the generation phase, water would be discharged into Reclamations’ unit no. 3 draft tube.
  • Alternative C would also use the existing Anderson Ranch dam, reservoir, and powerhouse along with the same upper reservoir and penstock(s) between the Anderson dam outlet works and the upper reservoir as described in Alternatives A and B. However, an 80-MW pump instead of a reversible pump-turbine would be installed in Reclamation’s empty third bay, which would pump water via the new penstocks to the upper reservoir. During the generation phase, water would be conveyed through either a new 3,440-foot-long, 9.1-foot-diameter single steel penstock or 6.5-foot-diameter twin penstocks to a new 250-foot-long, 90-foot-wide concrete powerhouse located adjacent to the existing Anderson Ranch reservoir. The powerhouse would contain a single 80-MW Pelton turbine/generator.

The estimated annual generation for the Anderson Ranch project would be 175.2 gigawatt-hours, regardless of the design alternative.

On Oct. 23, Reclamation responded to the commission’s Aug. 28 notice of the project, and stated that it not only reserves the right for federal development of additional hydropower at Anderson Ranch dam and powerhouse, but that it will not authorize private development of hydropower in the third generator bay (i.e., a lease of power privilege).

Said the Nov. 25 FERC order: “Because all of Owyhee Hydro’s project alternatives require the use of Reclamation facilities, and Reclamation has determined that it will not authorize such use, there is no purpose in issuing a preliminary permit at this time. Therefore, Owyhee Hydro’s permit application 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.