State seeking public comments before starting environmental review of Klickitat County energy project
The public will have a chance to weigh in on what environmental issues state officials should look at with a proposed $2.5 billion renewable energy project in Klickitat County.
Free Flow Project 101 LLC is proposing to build a system of reservoirs and a hydroelectric generator to “store” excess energy from the Goldendale area’s wind farms. State Department of Ecology Officials are in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement for the project.
The purpose of the hearings, scheduled for Jan. 27 and Feb. 3, are meant to help environmental regulators identify potential environmental effects the project may have, said Ecology spokeswoman Joye Redfield-Wilder.
Free Flow Project’s system calls for building two reservoirs near the former Columbia Gorge Aluminum smelter site, according to an Ecology news release. Water from the smelter’s water rights, which are being held in trust by the Klickitat County Public Utilities District, would be put in the lower reservoir, and surplus energy from nearby wind farms would be used to pump that water up to a second reservoir that would be built on a hillside nearby, about 2,400 feet above the first reservoir, according to Ecology and the project’s proponents.
When power demand increases, the water in the upper reservoir would then be returned by gravity to the lower reservoir, passing through a powerhouse where it would generate electricity.
The project was put on hold in 2015 after federal regulators denied the PUD’s request to renew the project’s permit for a third time. It was revived in 2019, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new permit.
The project was being developed by Rye Development and National Grid, but in November 2020, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners acquired ownership of the project.
The hearings will be online at 6 p.m. Jan. 27 and 10 a.m. Feb. 3. People may also submit comments online or by mail to Sage Park, Washington Department of Ecology, 1250 West Alder Street, Union Gap, WA 98903-0009, Attn: Goldendale Energy Storage Scoping.
Information on the project is available online at https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-Permits/Permits-certifications/Industrial-facilities-permits/Goldendale-Energy.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding