Monday, May 15, 2017

Is Pumped Storage Hydro The Next Wave Of Energy Development In PA? One Company Submits 17 Applications To FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission now has 37 permit applications in its system for pumped storage hydroelectric projects across the county, 17 of those are in Pennsylvania, all from one company-- Merchant Hydro Developers, LLC based in Doylestown, Bucks County.
The applications are asking FERC to approve preliminary permits to allow the companies to do a detailed feasibility analysis of the hydro projects on specific sites.  Merchants Hydro said these studies are estimated to cost from $188,000 to $200,000 or more, depending on the facility, and take a year to complete.
A preliminary permit does not authorize the permit holder to perform any land-disturbing activities or otherwise enter upon lands or waters owned by others without the owners’ express permission.
How They Work
Pumped storage hydro projects generate power by moving large amounts of water between two reservoirs typically covering 100 or more acres each, one located upgradient from the other so the fall of the water from the upper reservoir drives turbines that generate electricity as it moves to the lower reservoir.
The water is then pumped back up to the upper reservoir overnight or during off-peak times to start the process all over again.
There are closed loop systems that recycle the same water over and over again and open loop systems that use primarily new water for each generation cycle.
Click Here for more on how these systems work.
Proposed Merchant Hydro Projects
Merchant Hydro has submitted 17 applications to FERC for projects in Bedford, Blair (2), Bucks, Lackawanna (3), Lycoming, Northumberland, Schuylkill (2), Somerset (4) and Tioga (2) counties.
Each of the applications is about 15 pages long covering a very basic outline of the project and includes a Google Earth map with the project drawn on it. (Map Photo shows map of the Nockamixon Project in Bucks County which proposes to use water from the Delaware Canal.)
Merchant Hydro says in each of its applications, which are all very similar, the pump storage projects are in the public interest because they will generate clean, renewable energy, reduce the acid rain and greenhouse effects associated with “coal and oil fueled power plants” and are “in keeping with Pennsylvania’s 2014 State Energy Plan.”
Merchant notes in three of the projects in Lackawanna and Schuylkill counties they have the additional benefit of reclaiming abandoned mine land or integrating abandoned mine areas into their design.
The largest project, in terms of power generation, is a proposed 400 megawatt facility in Schuylkill County which would use 1 billions gallons of water to generate power in an open loop system.
The project with the largest amount of water used is in Lackawanna County— 1.2 billion in a closed loop system.
The smallest project is in Somerset County which would use 215 million gallons to generate 35 megawatts of power in a closed loop system.
All but two of the projects-- both in Schuylkill County-- are closed loop systems.  If all the projects are built, a big assumption, they would use 8.757 billion gallons of water to generate 2,130 megawatts of power.
The Merchant projects often propose to use groundwater as fill and/or make-up water or nearby surface water water sources like: the Delaware Canal, Pine Creek in Tioga County, Lycoming Creek in Lycoming County, the Lackawanna River, Willis Creek, Lake Stonycreek and the Casselman River in Somerset County, the Tioga River, the Raystown and Frankstown Branches of the Juniata River, the Little Juniata River and Catawissa Creek in Schuylkill County.
Existing Pump Storage Facilities
There are two pump storage hydroelectric projects now in Pennsylvania with a generating capacity of 1,583 megawatts-- FirstEnergy Seneca, 513 MW in Kinzua Township, Warren County using 3.4 million gallons (First photo) and Exelon Muddy Run, 1,070 MW in Drumore, Lancaster County using water from a 11.4 billion gallon lake.
There are now 5,718.3 megawatts of all types of hydroelectric power generation in the state or 3.1 percent of all electric generation capacity in Pennsylvania.
Merchant Permit Status
Merchant has been granted a preliminary permit by FERC to study the feasibility of one project so far— the 44 MW, 439 million gallon, closed loop Girard Estate Pumped Storage Hydro Project in Northumberland County that will take water from groundwater.  The public has until June 30 to request a rehearing. FERC Docket: P-14824
Five other projects were accepted by FERC and are now out for public comment—
— Blair County: 123 MW, 586 million gallon closed loop Allegheny Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will take water from the Frankstown Branch Juniata River.  Comments due June 3. FERC Docket: P-14820
— Blair County: 116 MW, 537 million gallon, closed loop Bacon Ridge Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will take water from groundwater and the Little Juniata River.  Comments due June 3. FERC Docket: P-14823
— Lackawanna County: 172 MW, 855 million gallon, closed loop Panther Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will take water from the Lackawanna River and reclaim abandoned mine lands.  Comments due May 27. FERC Docket: P-14808
— Lackawanna County: 230 MW, 1.2 billion gallon, closed loop Richmondale Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will take water from the Lackawanna River and reclaim abandoned mine lands. Comments due May 29. FERC Docket: P-14815
— Tioga County: 77 MW, 342 million gallon, closed loop Susan Russ Memorial Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will take groundwater or from the nearby Tioga River. Comments due May 27.
Click Here to comment on these applications to FERC.
The public comment periods on two of the projects have recently closed—
— Schuylkill County: 297 MW, 820 million gallon, open loop Rattlin Run Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will take water from the Catawissa Creek.  Comments closed April 14. FERC Docket: P-14807
— Schuylkill County: 400 MW, 1 billion gallon, open loop Shenandoah Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will take water from the Shen Penn Abandoned Mine Pit.  Comments closed April 14. FERC Docket: P-14809
The remaining 9 projects are still in some stage of review by FERC before being formally accepted and put out for public comment—
— Bedford County: 143 MW, 488 million gallon, closed loop Shaffer Mountain Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will take groundwater or from the nearby Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. FERC Docket: P-14832
— Bucks County: 125 MW, 733 million gallon, closed loop Nockamixon Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will use the Delaware Canal for its lower reservoir.  FERC Docket: P-14816
— Lackawanna County: 123 MW, 342 million gallon, closed loop Aroo Pioneer Peak Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will use groundwater and possibly the Lackawanna River. FERC Docket: P-14822
— Lycoming County: 52 MW, 342 million gallon, closed loop Hudson Hill Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will use groundwater and possible the Lycoming Creek. FERC Docket: 14826
— Somerset County: 35 MW, 215 million gallon Lookout Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will use groundwater and possibly Willis Creek. FERC Docket: P-14827
— Somerset County: 38 MW, 219 million gallon Meyersdale Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will use groundwater or the nearby Casselman River. FERC Docket: P-14828
— Somerset County: 67 MW, 322 million gallon, closed loop Snoosh Mountain Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will use groundwater or the nearby Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. FERC Docket: P-14833
— Somerset County: 91 MW, 488 million gallon, closed loop Stony Creek Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will use groundwater or the nearby Lake Stony Creek. FERC Docket: P-14834
— Tioga County: 41 MW, 268 million gallon, closed loop Armenia Pumped Storage Hydro Project that will use groundwater or the nearby Tioga River. FERC Docket: P-14821
Click Here to search the FERC e-Library, choose date range, fill in FERC Docket number for more details on each project application.
List Of Pump Storage Projects By County
-- Bedford County: 143 MW Shaffer Mountain Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 33 acres, reservoir #2-- 100 acres, 488 million gallons. Bedford, PA. Closed loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater and the nearby Raystown Branch Juniata River.  FERC Docket: P-14832, Date Filed: 1/18/2017. Note: FERC declared the application deficient, but Merchant submitted a response on May 12, 2017.
-- Blair County: 123 MW Allegheny Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 100 acres, reservoir #2-- 100 acres, 586 million gallons, Hollidaysburg, PA, Closed loop, charged from Frankstown Branch Juniata River. FERC Docket: P-14820, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Public comments due June 3.
-- Blair County: 116 MW Bacon Ridge Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 43 acres, reservoir #2-- 110 acres, 537 million gallons, Tyrone, PA. Closed loop, fill/make-up water would come from groundwater and possibly Little Juniata River.  FERC Docket: P-14823, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Public comments due June 3.
-- Bucks County:125 MW Nockamixon Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 150 acres, 733 million gallons, reservoir #2-- use Delaware Canal as lower reservoir; Kintnersville, PA. Closed loop. FERC Docket: P-14816, Date Filed: 1/11/2017.  Note: FERC declared the application deficient and returned for response 4/4/2017.
-- Lackawanna County: 172 MW Panther Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 175 acres, 855 million gallons, reservoir #2 180 acres, Vandling, PA, includes reclamation of abandoned mine land. Not closed loop, fill/make-up water would come from Lackawanna River. FERC Docket: P-14808, Date Filed: 12/19/16.  Public comments due May 27.
-- Lackawanna County: 230 MW Richmondale Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 75 acres, reservoir #2-- 260 acres, 1.2 billion gallons, Vandling, PA, Includes reclamation of abandoned mine land.  Closed loop, fill/make-up water would come from Lackawanna River. FERC Docket: P-14815, Date Filed: 1/10/2017.  Public comments due May 29.
--  Lackawanna County: 123 MW Aroo Pioneer Peak Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 184 acres, reservoir #2-- 116 acres, 566 million gallons, Blakely, PA. Closed Loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater and possibly Lackawanna River.  FERC Docket: P-14822, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Note: FERC declared the application deficient and returned for response 4/18/2017.
-- Lycoming County: 52 MW Hudson Hill Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir  #1-- 36 acres, reservoir #2-- 70 acres, 342 million gallons, Williamsport, PA. Closed loop/make-up water coming from groundwater and possibly nearby Lycoming Creek. FERC Docket: 14826, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Note: FERC declared the application deficient and returned for response 4/18/2017.
-- Northumberland County: 44 MW Girard Estate Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 12 acres, reservoir #2-- 90 acres, 439 million gallons. Closed Loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater and groundwater nearby, Zerbe Township, Shamokin, PA. FERC Docket: P-14824, Date Filed: 1/18/2017. Note: FERC issued a preliminary permit to allow the application to conduct a feasibility study on May 1, 2017.  The public has until June 30 to request a rehearing.
-- Schuylkill County: 297 MW Rattlin Run Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 112 acres, 550 million gallons, reservoir #2-- 169 acres, 820 million gallons, West Manahoy, Union, East Union, Manahoy Townships, Shenandoah Borough. Not closed loop, possible fill/make-up water from Catawissa Creek. FERC Docket: P-14807, Date Filed: 12/19/2016.  Public comment closed April 14.
-- Schuylkill County:  400 MW Shenandoah Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 242 acres, 1.3 billion gallons, reservoir #2-- 228 acres 1 billion gallons, includes using the Shen Penn abandoned mine pit for lower pool, West Manahoy, Union, East Union, Manahoy Townships, Shenandoah Borough.  Not closed loop, fill/make-up water would come from flow into the abandoned mine pit and groundwater.  FERC Docket: P-14809, Date Filed: 12/19/2016.  Public comment closed April 14.
-- Somerset County: 35 MW Lookout Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 30 acres, reservoir #2-- 44 acres, 215 million gallons, Closed loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater and possibly Wills Creek.  FERC Docket: P-14827, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Note: FERC had declared the application deficient, but Merchant responded to FERC on May 12, 2017.
-- Somerset County: 38 MW Meyersdale Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 30 acres, reservoir #2-- 45 acres, 219 million gallons, Somerset, PA. Closed loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater or nearby Casselman River.  FERC Docket: P-14828, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Note: FERC declared the application deficient, but Merchant submitted a response May 12, 2017.
-- Somerset County: 67 MW Snoosh Mountain Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 60 acres, reservoir #2-- 66 acres, 322 million gallons, Closed loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater or nearby Raystown Branch Juniata River.  FERC Docket: P-14833, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Note: Merchant submitted supplemental information on May 12, 2017.
-- Somerset County: 91 MW Stony Creek Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 40 acres, reservoir #2-- 100 acres, 488 million gallons, Closed loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater or nearby Lake Stony Creek.   FERC Docket: P-14834, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Note: FERC accepted the preliminary permit applications on March 30, 2017 for review.
-- Tioga County: 41 MW Armenia Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 25 acres, reservoir #2-- 55 acres, 268 million gallons, Closed loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater or nearby Tioga River.    FERC Docket: P-14821, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Note: FERC declared the application deficient and returned for response 4/18/2017.
-- Tioga County: 77 MW Susan Russ Memorial Pumped Storage Hydro Project, reservoir #1-- 60 acres, reservoir #2-- 70 acres, 342 million gallons, Closed loop, fill/make-up water coming from groundwater and the nearby Pine Creek.  FERC Docket: P-14835, Date Filed: 1/18/2017.  Note: Public comments are due May 27.
Click Here to search the FERC e-Library, choose date range, fill in FERC Docket number to get more information on each application.
Other Projects
Adam Rousselle, the principal contact for Merchant Hydro Developers, LLC, has also submitted applications to FERC for other hydro projects, including at the Blue Marsh Dam in Berks County, but was canceled by FERC in November 2016.  FERC Docket: 14683.
Merchant Hydro also requested FERC to stop work on the Mill Run Pumped Storage Hydro Project in Somerset County on 3/27/2017.  The project is a closed loop, 28 MW facility with two 45 acre reservoirs using 219 million gallons of water.  FERC Docket: 14829.
Additional Approvals
Before any of the projects can start construction, they need additional approvals by FERC, water withdrawal permits in the Delaware and Susquehanna River Basins-- but not in the Ohio River Basin in the western third of the state-- and construction-related permits from the Department of Environmental Protection, each with their own additional public review opportunities.
Merchant Hydro Contact
For more information, visit Merchant Hydro Developers, LLC website.  The contact information for Merchant is listed as 5718 Oak Crest Drive, Doylestown, PA 18902, phone: 267-254-6107 or email:  arousselle@merchanthydro.com.
[Note: Thanks to Emily Krafjack from Wyoming County for the initial list of pump storage hydro projects pending before FERC.]

1 comment :

  1. Merchant Hydro says in each of its applications, which are all very similar, the pump storage projects are in the public interest because they will generate clean, renewable energy, reduce the acid rain and greenhouse effects associated with “coal and oil fueled power plants” and are “in keeping with Pennsylvania’s 2014 State Energy Plan.”

    Lipstick on a pig.

    ReplyDelete

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