FERC issues permit for 600-MW Black Mountain pumped storage project

On July 14, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a March 24 application from Black Mountain Hydro LLC for a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of the 600-MW Southern Intertie Pumped Storage Project, to be located on Black Mountain near Yerington in Mineral and Lyon counties, Nevada.

The entire project would be located on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The project would consist of: an upper reservoir in a natural depression having a total storage capacity of 4,460 acre-feet at a normal maximum operating elevation of 7,410 feet mean sea level (msl); a 105-foot-tall, 1,500-foot-long lower dam; a lower reservoir having a total storage capacity of 4,384 acre-feet at a normal maximum operating elevation of 5,500 feet msl; a 2,200-foot-long, 16.5-foot-diameter, concrete low pressure tunnel; a 7,850-foot-long 16.5-foot-diameter concrete and steel lined high pressure tunnel; a 2,200-foot-long, 20-foot-diameter concrete-lined tailrace; a 300-foot-long, 80-foot-wide, 50-feet-high underground powerhouse containing three 200-MW pump-turbine generator units; a 4.6-mile-long 230-kV transmission line; and a 230/500-kV substation. The estimated annual generation of the Southern Intertie Project would be 1,577 gigawatt-hours.

There were concerns raised about this permitting. For example, BLM noted that the project overlays or is adjacent to the Perry Springs-Deadman and Black Mountain Grazing allotments, the Wassuck Herd Management Area, the Black Mountain /Pistone Archeological District Area and a designated Bi-State Greater Sage Grouse Habitat.

But FERC noted that a preliminary permit does not authorize a permittee to undertake construction of the proposed project. The purpose of a preliminary permit is to study the feasibility of the project, including studying potential impacts, during the three-year permit term. The concerns raised in the comments are premature at the preliminary permit stage, in that they address the potential effects of constructing and operating the proposed project, FERC wrote. Should the permittee file a license application, these issues will be addressed in the licensing process.

During the course of the permit, the commission expects that the permittee will carry out prefiling consultation and study development leading to the possible development of a license application.

The applicant contact is: Mathew Schapiro, Chief Executive Officer, Gridflex Energy LLC, 1210 W. Franklin St., Ste. 2, Boise, Idaho 83702, phone (208) 246-9925.

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.