FERC launches pre-license review of 500-MW Banks Lake pumped storage project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an Aug. 31 notice about a June 27 filing by Columbia Basin Hydropower that said the company plans to use the Traditional Licensing Process for the 500-MW Banks Lake Pumped Storage Project.

This project will be located on Banks Lake and Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake in Grant and Douglas counties, Washington. The project occupies about 65 acres of United States lands administered by the Bureau of Reclamation.

A company contact is: Tim Culbertson, Columbia Basin Hydropower, P.O. Box 219, Ephrata, WA 98823, (509) 754-2227, TCulbertson@cbhydropower.org.

Columbia Basin Hydropower provided public notice of its request on Aug. 4. In a letter dated Aug. 31, FERC’s Director of the Division of Hydropower Licensing approved Columbia Basin Hydropower’s request to use the Traditional Licensing Process. With this Aug. 31 notice, FERC is initiating informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or NOAA Fisheries under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and NOAA Fisheries under section 305(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. It is also initiating consultation with the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer.

The project would utilize the existing Banks Lake and Roosevelt Lake and North Dam. Columbia Basin Hydropower (CBHP) proposes to construct a new powerhouse, penstock, and transmission line. The project’s installed capacity is anticipated to be 500 MW (scalable to 1,000 MW), and the preliminary estimate for average annual generation is 769,600 MWH.

Currently, there are no generating facilities within the proposed project boundary, however, a dam and two reservoirs are already present. Banks Lake will serve as the upper reservoir for the project and has a surface area of approximately 27,000 acres at a normal maximum surface elevation varying from 1,560 to 1,570 feet msl. At an elevation of 1,570 feet msl, the maximum storage capacity is approximately 700,000 acre-feet. Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (Lake Roosevelt) will serve as the lower reservoir and has a total storage capacity of 9.4 million acre-feet, with an active capacity of approximately 5.2 million acre-feet, between elevation 1,208 and 1,290 feet msl. The project will be constructed at the North Dam, a rock-faced earth-fill dam that is owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The project will make use of existing transmission lines of 500 kV or 230 kV, which are available near the upper reservoir. In order to interconnect with these lines at an existing (or new) substation, approximately two miles of primary transmission will be necessary.

The proposed project will be capable of providing 500 MW of firm capacity for up to approximately 70 continuous hours, assuming that the active storage contained in the top five feet of Banks Lake (elevation 1565 to elevation 1570) is available for project operations. The project will also provide valuable flexibility in the region by enhancing integration of intermittent renewable resources (wind and solar), the application said.

The project’s continuous peaking capability may, however, be limited during some portions of the year to a period of less than 70 hours due to: pumping operations required to meet existing and future BOR irrigation water delivery obligations out of Banks Lake; Bonneville Power Administration pump/generation operations at the Keys Pump-Generating Plant; seasonal recreational constraints at Banks Lake (late May through September); and operations during August to supply water out of Banks Lake to augment flows downstream of Grand Coulee Dam to support endangered fishery recovery programs.

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.