FERC grants extra time on 500-MW Banks Lake Pumped Storage Project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on July 5 granted a June 29 application from Columbia Basin Hydropower for a two-year extension of its existing preliminary permit for the proposed Banks Lake Pumped Storage Project.

The original permit was issued on Aug. 22, 2013, and is due to expire on July 31, 2016.

The proposed project would be located on Banks Lake and Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (Lake Roosevelt), near the town of Grand Coulee in Grant County, Washington. The project would be located on federal lands administered by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Section 5(b) of the Federal Power Act states that a preliminary permit term can be extended once for not more than two additional years if the commission finds that the permittee has carried out activities under the permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence. In its progress reports, Columbia Basin Hydropower indicated that it had: assessed the feasibility of the project; developed preliminary estimates of costs and revenue for the proposed project; conducted meetings with interested stakeholders; and consulted with appropriate local, state, and federal agencies and Indian tribes.

In its extension application, Columbia Basin Hydropower stated that Alternative 2 in the original permit application is no longer feasible and it has no plans to conduct further investigations or evaluation of this alternative. On June 27, Columbia Basin Hydropower filed a Notice of Intent, Request to Use the Traditional Licensing Process, and a Pre-Application Document (PAD) for the Banks Lake Pumped Storage Project.

Said the July 5 FERC order: “Upon review of the application for extension, the progress reports submitted under the preliminary permit4 , and the PAD, Columbia Basin Hydropower has demonstrated that it has carried out activities under the permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence. Therefore, the request for extension of the preliminary permit term is granted. It is expected that during the remaining term of the permit, as extended, agency consultation will continue, studies will be completed, and a development application will be prepared.”

The project is located at the North Dam of Banks Lake in central Washington State near the Grand Coulee Dam. This is a separate project from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s existing Keys pump-generation plant (which is sometimes referred to as the Banks Lake pumped storage plant). This new project would have a a capacity of 500 MW, made up of two to four adjustable speed pump-generating units.

Columbia Basin Hydropower provides administration, operation, and maintenance functions for hydroelectric generation facilities owned by the three irrigation districts that make up the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project.

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.