Feds seek offers to build pumped-storage hydroelectric facility in Idaho

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will announce in the April 11 Federal Register that it will consider proposals for non-federal development of a pumped-storage hydroelectric power utilizing the Anderson Ranch Reservoir in Idaho as the lower impoundment for that project.

Reclamation is considering such hydroelectric power development under its lease of power privilege (LOPP) process and regulations.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) also has jurisdiction in this case. FERC jurisdiction applies to all elements of a proposed pumped-storage hydroelectric power project at Anderson Ranch Reservoir that are outside of Reclamation facilities and lands. In this case, FERC jurisdiction will include the upper reservoir, a large part of the penstock connecting the upper reservoir with Anderson Ranch Reservoir, and other facilities (such as power transmission lines and access roads that are outside of Reclamation jurisdiction).

A written proposal must be submitted within 150 days after this Feb. 11 notice.

Anderson Ranch Dam and Powerplant is a multiple purpose structure that provides benefits of irrigation, power, and flood and silt control. The dam is 456 feet high and is on the South Fork of the Boise River, 28 miles northeast of Mountain Home. It has a total storage capacity of 474,900 acre-feet (active capacity 413,100 acre-feet) and was the world’s highest earth and rock fill dam at the time of its completion in 1950. The powerplant had a rated capacity of 27,000 kilowatts with two units installed. These units were up-rated in 1986, increasing the capacity to 20,000 kilowatts each for a total of 40,000 kilowatts.

Reclamation is considering pumped-storage hydroelectric power development on the Anderson Ranch Reservoir under a LOPP. A LOPP is an alternative to federal hydroelectric power development. It is an authorization issued to a non-federal entity to use a Reclamation facility for electric power generation consistent with Reclamation project purposes. Leases of power privilege have terms not to exceed 40 years. 

Reclamation and FERC will be responsible for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) related to any project selected for consideration pursuant to this notice. Reclamation and FERC will also lead necessary consultation with involved American Indian tribal governments and compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, Endangered Species Act, and other related environmental regulations for all elements of a proposed project. All Reclamation costs associated with project planning and regulatory compliance requirements will be borne by the selected applicant(s).

No federal funds will be available for non-federal hydroelectric power development. Interested parties will need to file an appropriate application with FERC in order to encompass all elements of a pumped-storage hydroelectric power development at this reservoir. Reclamation and FERC will determine the appropriate relationship between the two agencies in coordinating the study and decision-making process.

Any LOPP on Anderson Ranch Reservoir must not interfere with existing contractual commitments related to operation and maintenance of the Anderson Ranch Dam and other Boise Project facilities. The lessee (i.e., successful proposing entity) will be required to enter into a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation. This contract will: address requirements related to coordination of operation and maintenance with Boise Project stakeholders (such as the Boise Project Board of Control and others); and stipulate that the LOPP lessee will be responsible for any increase in operation or maintenance costs that are attributable to the pumped-storage project.

No LOPP project facilities or features will be permitted within the Reclamation zone surrounding Anderson Ranch Dam, including inlet/outlet works, hydropower facilities, and appurtenant facilities. The one exception to this constraint may be power transmission lines.

The lessee would be responsible for securing transmission and marketing of the power generated by the proposed project. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) will have the first opportunity to purchase and/or market the power that is generated by the project under a LOPP. BPA will consult with Reclamation on such power purchasing and/or marketing considerations. In the event BPA elects to not purchase and/or market the power generated by the hydropower development or such a decision cannot be made prior to execution of the LOPP, the lessee will have the right to market the power generated by the project to others.

Potential LOPP lessees should be aware that Reclamation plans to carry out a parallel feasibility study focused on raising Anderson Ranch Dam by six feet as a means to increase storage capacity. If this project is found feasible and proceeds to implementation, the LOPP lessee would need to adapt the pumped-storage project as necessary to accommodate this change.

Reclamation will notify, in writing, all entities submitting proposals of Reclamation’s decision regarding selection of the potential lessee. The selected potential lessee will have three years from the date of such notification to accomplish NEPA compliance and enter into a LOPP for this project. The lessee will then have up to three years from the date of execution of the lease to complete the designs and specifications and an additional two years to secure financing and to begin construction. Such timeframes may be adjusted for just cause resulting from actions and/or circumstances that are beyond the control of the lessee.

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.