FERC okays permit for up-to-1,000-MW Ute Pumped Storage Project in Utah

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 8 granted a December 2015 application from the Ute Indian Tribe for a preliminary permit, good for up to three years of study on the feasibility of the Ute Pumped Storage Project.

The project would be located at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir, which is part of the Colorado River Storage Project and located on the Green River in Daggett County, Utah.

The proposed project would utilize the existing Flaming Gorge Reservoir as the lower reservoir. The project would include these new facilities: an intake and discharge structure at one of seven locations in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir; an underground tailrace between the reservoir intake/outlet structure and the powerhouse; pump-turbine units in an underground powerhouse with generation capacity of 500 MW-1,000 MW; a penstock between the powerhouse and the upper reservoir; a dam at one of seven locations forming the upper reservoir; an upper reservoir at one of seven locations with a capacity between 5,000 and 10,000 acre-feet at an elevation between 6,800 and 7,500 feet above mean sea level; and a transmission line from the powerhouse to the nearest major transmission interconnection. The estimated annual generation would be between 400 and 850 gigawatt-hours.

Because the Colorado River Storage Project Act of 19565 authorized Reclamation to construct, operate, and maintain hydroelectric facilities at the Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir, Reclamation is presumed to have jurisdiction over those areas. However, commission staff concluded that FERC retains jurisdiction over non-federal hydropower facilities located outside of Reclamation’s Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir, which would include the new upper reservoir, the new penstocks, the new powerhouse, the new transmission line, and any new access roads.

Accordingly, to proceed with the development of project features using the Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir, the Tribe will have to apply for and obtain a lease of power privilege from Reclamation. For parts of the proposed project that would be located outside the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the Tribe would be required to obtain a commission license.

The purpose of a preliminary permit is to preserve the right of the permit holder to have the first priority in applying for a license for the project that is being studied. 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: Shaun Chapoose, Chairman, Ute Tribal Business Committee, Ute Indian Tribe, P. O. Box 190, Fort Duchesne, Utah 84026, phone: (435) 722-5141.

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.