Energy Storage

Major Pumped-Hydro Storage Project Moves Forward in Nevada

A Utah-based energy developer has filed a final license application for construction of a major pumped-hydro storage project in Nevada. rPlus Hydro on March 8 said it made the filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the company’s 1,000-MW White Pine Pumped Storage installation in White Pine County.

White Pine, the first pumped-hydro storage project in Nevada, is expected to provide about eight hours of energy storage at peak output of 1 GW. Officials said the installation could supply power to support more than 12% of the state’s peak electricity demand on a hot summer day.

The project is the second developed by rPlus Hydro to reach the final license application milestone this year, joining the Seminoe Pumped Storage Project in Wyoming.

$2.5 Billion Investment

“White Pine is located at an important crossroads of existing, planned, and proposed electric transmission in Nevada,” said Matthew Shapiro, rPlus Hydro CEO. “From this location, the project would help the state meet peak power needs in its northern and southern load areas, and help stabilize the grid, while making the most effective use of renewable energy sources. With planned third-party transmission build-outs, the White Pine project will sit at the intersection of regional energy markets. It’s hard to imagine a more strategic location for this project.”

Local officials in White Pine County, located in east-central Nevada about 240 miles north of Las Vegas, said the project represents about a $2.5 billion investment in Nevada’s energy infrastructure.

The White Pine Pumped Storage project is the second rPlus Hydro project to reach the final application license milestone this year, and is one of only a handful of pumped storage projects to reach this stage in the past two decades. The project will provide Nevada with significant energy storage capability. Source: rPlus Hydro

A pumped storage project can be thought of as a large battery that moves water back and forth between two reservoirs at different elevations to store energy and generate power. The cycle is repeated as needed to provide electricity and stabilize the power grid. The availability of pumped-hydro storage energy provides support for intermittent and variable renewable sources.

Officials in their announcement Wednesday said there are 43 pumped-hydro storage projects currently operating in the U.S., with more than 130 worldwide.

“We welcome the opportunity that White Pine Pumped Storage brings to further diversify our economic base and work force,” said Shane Bybee, chairman of the White Pine County Commission. “This is a key milestone in the project’s progression and demonstrates that rPlus Hydro is committed to our community and the ultimate success of this development.”

$12 Million in Tax Revenue

Officials said the project’s multi-year construction phase will create up to 500 construction jobs, and will support 35 full-time jobs once operational. It is expected to provide an estimated $12 million in additional annual tax revenue for state and local governments.

Luigi Resta, president of rPlus Hydro, told POWER: “White Pine Pumped Storage’s strategic location within the Western grid uniquely positions the project to help balance the grid and ensure its reliability and stability through the remainder of the century as renewable energy grows in the market.”

“White Pine County is geographically and politically positioned to be the future of Nevada’s energy production, transmission, and storage. rPlus is a leader in the energy storage arena, and without creative projects like these, Nevada’s growth in renewable energy developments can never become an efficient reality,” said Mike Wheable, White Pine County manager. “White Pine County recognizes the effort and resources rPlus has dedicated to achieving this step in the development, and is thankful to participate in this unprecedented and necessary project that will benefit all Nevadans.”

The license application filing means FERC will now begin an environmental review and licensing process for the project. Construction could start as early as 2025.

“The filing of White Pine Pumped Storage’s final license application with FERC represents an exciting milestone, and as Nevada’s first pumped storage project to reach this milestone, White Pine will play a substantial role in balancing the grid and enabling the integration of renewable energy—further demonstration of how the American West is leading the market in the energy transition,” said Resta.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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