Pump storage concept draws companies with deep pockets

Pump station taking water from Lake Roosevelt uphill to Banks Lake

The long-wished-for pump storage project that Klickitat PUD has been advocating for nearly a decade may have a new lease on life. We talked to Klickitat PUD director Jim Smith Friday. To hear that interview, click on the grey podcast bar below

FERC is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Rye Development, based in Boston, develops and manages hydroelectric power projects in the United States. National Grid is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world – covering Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and the UK.

The Portland Business Journal reports the Goldendale project is largely unchanged from the JD Pool Pumped Storage Project that Klickitat Public Utility District pursued unsuccessfully for several years until 2015. It works by pumping water uphill into a reservoir when energy is cheap and plentiful, and then releasing the water downhill through generating turbines when the energy is needed. The site next to the John Day Dam is considered one of the best for pumped storage in the West, with more than 2,000 feet of vertical rise over barely a mile of horizontal distance. As proposed, the project would produce up to 1,200 megawatts, more than double the power output of the Boardman Coal Plant that Portland General Electric operates in Eastern Oregon, and just over the amount produced by The Dalles Dam.

Klickitat PUD, which holds the water rights, is still a participant. One major change is that the earlier project ran aground because federal regulators feared the lower reservoir would conflict with the cleanup of the shuttered Columbia Gorge Aluminum smelter. The new application includes a letter from Washington’s Department of Ecology attesting the department “is supportive of the proposed project and believes that it will not hinder the cleanup process.”