The state House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill Tuesday, Feb. 18, that would designate the proposed Goldendale Pumped Storage Project as a “project of statewide significance.”
“This is one of the most innovative energy projects in the nation. It would create 1,200 megawatts of clean energy and power using primarily private dollars on private land with very little environmental impact,” said Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, who sponsored House Bill 2819.
The proposal involves construction of a hydropower project eight miles south of Goldendale at the former aluminum smelter along the Columbia River. During periods of excess energy generated by wind and solar, water would be pumped from a lower reservoir near the river to an upper reservoir on the bluff about 2,400 feet above. It also includes cleanup of the former smelter site.
“Think of it as our own giant battery. It uses the electricity of solar and wind power to pump water from the river into a reservoir storage area. Then when electricity is needed, water is released through three hydro turbine generators to produce the power on demand,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale. “It’s expected to create about 3,000 local jobs over the next four years and infuse more than $2 billion into our state’s economy.”
Projects given the status of “statewide significance” are able to receive multi-level collaboration with permitting by local government jurisdictions in partnership with the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance.
Just before the House vote, Mosbrucker added an amendment that requires cities and counties with development projects of statewide significance to include a plan for consultation with affected tribes.
“Some of our local tribes were requesting to have input into this project, so this amendment will make sure they have a voice at the table,” added Mosbrucker.
The bill passed the House 96-0, with two members excused. It is scheduled for a public hearing, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1:30 p.m., in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks.