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Industry News

FERC Issues License for New 400-MW Pumped Storage Facility in Montana

LCG, January 5, 2017--The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued late last month a 50-year license to construct and operate the 400-MW Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro project. The closed-loop project will be located in Meagher County, Montana. The final design is scheduled to be completed in 2017, and construction is planned to commence in 2018.

The Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro project is intended to provide utility-scaled energy storage capabilities to complement the growth of wind farms that intermittently generate electricity within the day and over the year. The project is sited near the Colstrip twin 500 kV transmission lines, the backbone of Montana's electric system. This interconnection location will give the pumped storage facility access to markets in Montana and throughout the region.

The Governor stated, "Montanans are blessed to live in a place with a rich and diverse supply of energy resources that have provided us not only affordable power but also a way to make a living for thousands of hardworking families across the state. By advancing pumped storage projects like this to our energy mix, Montana is helping chart the path to an affordable energy future that strengthens our rural communities, provides job creation opportunities for even more energy development, all while safeguarding our quality of life."

Absaroka Energy is developing the Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro project. The project includes a new upper and lower reservoir, three new dams, a conveyance system between the reservoirs, a powerhouse with generating/pumping facilities, a transmission line and two substations, and an access road to the lower reservoir.

The project will pump water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir at times when power prices are relatively low. When power prices are high and energy is needed, water will be released from the upper reservoir through the power tunnel to the powerhouse to generate electricity. This will occur based on on-peak/off-peak power considerations, the need to augment the production of local renewable wind power generation, or to provide ancillary power services.

To move the water between the reservoirs, the project includes four reversible pump-turbine units rated at 100 MW each for a total of 400 MW. Power generated by the project will be transmitted from the powerhouse substation through a new overhead 5.7-mile-long, 230-kV transmission line to a new substation, where power will be stepped up to 500-kV and interconnect with an adjacent existing non-project 500-kV transmission line. The project is estimated to annually generate 1,300,000 MWh.

Water to initially fill the new reservoirs (4,685 acre-feet) and to make-up for evaporative losses (approximately 500 acre-feet per year) will be supplied from Cottonwood Creek via an existing irrigation system.
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