FERC rejects competing apps for 1,200-MW pumped storage projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 23 rejected both a recent application for an extended preliminary permit on a 1,200-MW pumped storage hydro project in Washington, and a competing permit application from a second party.

On Nov. 3, Public Utility District No. 1 of Klickitat County, Washington (Klickitat PUD) filed a second successive (i.e., third) preliminary permit application for the proposed JD Pool Pumped Storage Project. Also on Nov. 3, Clean Power Development LLC filed a preliminary permit application, in competition with Klickitat PUD’s application, for the proposed Columbia Gorge Renewable Energy Balancing Project.

Both projects would be located near the city of Goldendale in Klickitat County, Washington.

In May 2009, commission staff issued Klickitat PUD its first preliminary permit for its JD Pool Project. Klickitat PUD received a successive (i.e., second) preliminary permit for the project in November 2012.

On Oct. 30, 2015, Klickitat PUD applied for a two-year extension of the term of the successive permit. While that application was pending, on Nov. 3, Klickitat PUD applied for a second successive (third) preliminary permit. On Nov. 5, commission staff rejected Klickitat PUD’s request to extend the term of its successive preliminary permit, because it was not timely filed.

On Dec. 1, Klickitat PUD filed supplemental information to its preliminary permit application, providing more information about an ongoing cleanup process at the site of its proposed lower reservoir. This Dec 23 order deals with Klickitat PUD’s application for a third permit, as well as Clean Power’s competing application.

The JD Pool Project would consist of the following new facilities: two upper reservoirs; a connection tunnel connecting the two upper reservoirs, allowing them to function as a single storage reservoir; a lower reservoir; double steel and concrete buried penstocks between the upper and lower reservoirs; a powerhouse containing four pump/turbine/generator units with a total installed capacity of 1,200 MW; and a 230-kV transmission line interconnecting with the existing Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) Harvalum substation.

Clean Power’s competing preliminary permit application for the Columbia Gorge Project would consist of these new facilities: an upper reservoir; a lower reservoir; a buried shotcrete/steel penstock between the upper and lower reservoirs; a powerhouse containing up to four pump/turbine/generator units with a total installed capacity of 1,200 MW; and a 230-kV transmission line interconnecting with BPA’s Harvalum substation.

The lower reservoirs for both projects would be located at the site of the former Columbia Gorge Aluminum smelter. Both projects would be closed-loop pumped storage hydroelectric projects located near the Army Corps of Engineers’ John Day Lock and Dam within the Columbia River Basin. Initially, the lower reservoirs for both projects would be filled with water from the Columbia River using an existing submerged pumping station and conveyance pipeline.

FERC said it is in part rejecting the Klickitat PUD application because certain project issues do not constitute an extraordinary circumstance justifying another permit.

But, FERC added: “Even if Klickitat PUD was able to show an extraordinary circumstance or factor beyond its control, Commission staff would still not grant a preliminary permit for the site. In their applications, both Klickitat PUD and Clean Power explain that the proposed lower reservoir site for their projects is currently undergoing a cleanup process due to decades of contamination from the former operation of the Columbia Gorge Aluminum smelter. The site has been subject to various requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and regulations implemented thereunder, since 1980. Smelter operations contaminated the soil and groundwater at the site with fluoride, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cyanide, and polychlorinated biphenyls.”

FERC noted that in its two previous preliminary permit applications, Klickitat PUD proposed a different site for the lower reservoir and made no mention of the proximity of the project to the contaminated site.

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.