Proposed Long Canyon energy project

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted for filing an application for a preliminary permit for a pumped storage project in the Utah desert.  In January, Utah Independent Power, Inc. filed for a preliminary permit.  The Long Canyon Pumped Storage Project would entail two dams to store water drawn from the Colorado River near Moab, Utah.  (Here's a topographic map of the general location.)

A water pipe buried in the desert soil in Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah.

Pumped storage projects are one way to store energy.  Electricity that is generated can be converted into potential energy stored in water by pumping it uphill.  That energy, or most of it, can be captured and converted back into electricity on command.

Utah Independent Power's application to FERC for a preliminary permit for the Long Canyon Pumped Storage Project (18-page PDF) provides some details on how the project might work.  Initially, water from the river would be pumped into the lower reservoir.  When electricity is abundant and low-priced, the project would consume electricity to pump water from the lower reservoir uphill to the upper reservoir.  When electricity is scarce or commands a high enough price, the project would release water downhill through turbines to produce up to 800 megawatts of hydroelectric energy.  In a typical pumped storage project, the same pumps used to send water uphill can be used as turbines when the water flows back down.  The owned of a pumped storage project seeks to earn profits by taking advantage of the difference between off-peak energy prices and the prices available during peak demand.

Now that the Commission has accepted the application for filing, the application is open for 60 days for public comment or a showing of interest in the site by a competing developer.  After that period, and after a technical and legal review of the application by Commission staff, the Commission may issue a preliminary permit to the applicant.  A preliminary permit does not authorize the permittee to actually construct anything; rather, it confers first priority of application for a license - what the Commission calls "guaranteed first-to-file status" - while the permittee studies the site and prepares to apply for a license, typically for a term of 3 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment