FERC seeks input on GB Energy’s 400-MW pumped hydro project in Montana

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a Feb. 4 notice that it is taking input on a planned environmental review related to an October 2015 license application from GB Energy Park LLC for the 400-MW Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Project, to be located approximately three miles west of the City of Martinsdale, Meagher County, Montana.

The applicant contact is: Carl. E. Borgquist, President, GB Energy Park LLC, 209 Wilson Avenue, P.O. Box 309, Bozeman, MT 59771, (406) 585-3006; carl@absarokaenergy.com.

The deadline for filing comments, terms and conditions, recommendations, and prescriptions is 60 days from the issuance date of this notice. Reply comments are due 105 days from the issuance date of this notice.

The Gordon Butte Hydroelectric Project would consist of these new facilities:

  • a manually operated head gate on an existing irrigation canal that provides initial fill and annual make-up water to the lower reservoir from the existing irrigation canal;
  • a 3,000-foot-long, 1,000-foot-wide upper reservoir created by a 60-foot-high, 7,500-foot-long concrete-faced rockfill dam;
  • a reinforced concrete intake/outlet structure at the upper reservoir with six gated intake bays converging into a central 18-foot-diameter, 750-foot-long vertical shaft;
  • an 18-foot-diameter, 3,000-foot-long concrete and steel-lined penstock tunnel leading from the upper reservoir to the lower reservoir;
  • a 2,300-foot-long, 1,900-foot-wide lower reservoir created by a combination of excavation and two 60-foot-high, 500- and 750-foot-long concrete-faced rockfill dams;
  • a partially buried 338-foot-long, 109-foot-wide, 74-foot-high reinforced concrete and steel powerhouse with four 100-MW ternary Pelton turbine/pump/generators;
  • a 600-foot-long, 200-foot-wide substation at the powerhouse site with 13.8-kV to 230-kV step-up transformers;
  • a 5.7-mile-long, 230-kV transmission line; and
  • a 1,200-foot-long, 1,450-foot-wide substation with a 230-kV to 500-kV step-up transformer, connecting to an existing non-project 500-kV transmission line.

The project is estimated to provide 1,300 gigawatt-hours annually.

Pumped storage hydro involves using cheap electricity during certain slack demand times of the day to pump water uphill, then the release of that water to flow downhill to generate electricity during peak power demand periods. Such projects, which have been around for years, are considered particularly attractive right now as a way to even out the input of highly variable wind and solar capacity to the grid.

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.