The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued guidance for the development of closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites, as well as a list of existing non-powered federal dams that FERC and other agencies agree have the greatest potential for non-federal hydropower development.
Both actions fulfill FERC’s requirements under Sections 3003 and 3004 of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA).
As directed by AWIA, commission staff conducted a workshop on April 4, 2019, to explore potential opportunities for the development of closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites. The document issued, based on information provided at the workshop, identifies resources and provides information to assist prospective applicants considering the development of closed-loop pumped storage projects at these sites.
A closed-loop pumped storage project is generally defined as one that uses reservoirs situated at locations other than natural waterways, lakes, wetlands and other natural surface water features. Types of reservoirs that lend themselves to closed-loop operations include reservoirs located in surface mine pits or underground mines.
FERC developed the list of existing non-powered federal dams jointly with the departments of the Army, the Interior, and Agriculture, as directed by the AWIA. On December 13, 2018, the commission initiated consultation with the department secretaries by requesting agency points of contact for the purposes of receiving and providing input on a draft list of non-powered federal dams. The final list was developed in consultation with representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, Forest Service, and Department of Energy.
The final list includes 230 non-powered federal dams, sorted by potential capacity, that FERC and the Department Secretaries agree have the greatest potential for non-federal hydropower development.
The sites are listed by capacity, with the largest site being 299.3 MW and the smallest 1.01 MW.