Clean Power urges FERC to okay app for 1,200-MW pumped storage hydro project

Clean Power Development LLC sent a Dec. 15 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urging the commission to accept its recent application for a preliminary permit on a pumped storage hydro project in Washington over a competing application from an entity that has held a preliminary permit on the project for several years.

Clean Power filed its application for the proposed Columbia Gorge Renewable Energy Balancing Project on Nov. 2, 2015, at 6:50 PM Eastern Time Zone. But there was an application for a preliminary permit filed on Nov. 2, 2015, at 8:47 PM Eastern Time Zone, by Public Utility District No. 1 of Klickitat County, Washington (Klickitat PUD) for a third preliminary permit on its proposed JD Pool Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project at the same location.

“As a municipality with six years of priority, exclusive developmental rights and factors in its control to evaluate the feasibility of a proposed project and complete the studies required to support a development application, Klickitat PUD has failed to file a final license application given adequate preparation time and without delaying extraordinary circumstances,” Clean Power argued in its Dec. 15 letter. “Also, its untimely request for a two-year extension of its second successive preliminary permit, citing extraordinary circumstances, was rejected on November 5, 2015.

“As a private company, Clean Power strongly desires that this ideal pumped storage project move forward expeditiously under the best possible circumstances in attracting a broader array of capital and financing necessary to realize this critical new source of proven, cost-effective clean energy storage.”

A Clean Power contact is: Nathan Sandvig, (971) 229-1949,

The Klickitat PUD version of project would have an estimated average annual energy output based on 10 hours of generation, 7 days a week, which will produce approximately 4,200,000 MWhs annually. The facility would consist of four 300-MW turbines.

The Clean Power version would have a maximum potential total installed capacity of 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.

The upper reservoir would be located in the Columbia Hills overlooking the Columbia River, near existing wind turbine generators and approximately 2,000 feet above the lower reservoir. The lower reservoir would be located at the site of a closed aluminum smelter, adjacent to the Columbia River near the U.S Army Corps of Engineers John Day Dam.

Said FERC’s Nov. 5 order rejecting the Klickitat PUD application: “Here, Klickitat PUD fails to adequately support its statement that extraordinary circumstances were present that prevented it from filing a timely request for an extension. Klickitat PUD explains that it did not file a timely extension request because, until mid October, it was unsure whether it would continue to pursue the project at all. Klickitat PUD states that its Board of Commissioners had concerns about financing the project that were not resolved until the deadline to file an extension request had passed.”

FERC added: “Financial concerns about a project’s viability are an issue common to many projects. This is not an extraordinary circumstance, or a unique situation that merits a waiver. Klickitat PUD states that a renewed interest in financial support for the project started in July of 2015. Therefore, Klickitat PUD could have at least filed for an extension of the filing deadline before the deadline passed. For the reasons above, Klickitat PUD’s request for a waiver of the 30-day filing deadline…is denied. As such, Klickitat PUD’s request to extend the term of its successive permit is untimely and is rejected.”

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.