FERC permit sought for 550-MW project on 500-mile Wyoming-Colorado pipeline

WASHINGTON 11/14/11 (PennWell) — Wyco Power and Water Inc. has filed for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission preliminary permit to study developing two pumped-storage plants and five conventional hydropower plants totaling 550 MW on a proposed 501-mile pipeline to carry water from southeastern Wyoming to Colorado.

Wyco’s Aaron Million, a Fort Collins, Colo., businessman, proposes the Regional Watershed Supply project, a buried water supply pipeline to carry water from two points in Wyoming, the Green River and the reservoir of the Bureau of Reclamation’s 151.95-MW Flaming Gorge project on the Green River in Utah and Wyoming. The water would be delivered across the Continental Divide to Colorado’s Front Range at storage facilities near Pueblo, Colo.

FERC issued a notice Oct. 18 that it accepted Wyco’s preliminary permit application (No. 14263) for filing. That kicked off a 60-day period in which other parties can comment, intervene, or file competing applications. A preliminary permit, if granted, does not allow construction, but reserves the site while the applicant studies feasibility of the project for hydropower licensing.

FERC noted that it would only have jurisdiction over the proposed hydroelectric project and not the other major components of the giant project. It said project construction might require permits for other federal agencies. It was reported that the Corps of Engineers had been reviewing the plan, but referred Wyco to FERC when it learned the project was to have a hydropower component.

Hydroelectric developments proposed for the project include the 240-MW Lake Hattie Pumped-Storage development utilizing a new upper reservoir to be built on Sheep Mountain and using the existing Lake Hattie as lower reservoir. It also would include the 240-MW Wild Horse Canyon Pumped-Storage development with a new 10,300-acre-foot upper reservoir and a new lower reservoir. The project also would have five 14-MW conventional hydro plants built on the pipeline.

For water distribution purposes, the project would have four new reservoirs: 185,000-acre-foot Cactus Hill near Fort Collins; 25,000-acre-foot T-Cross in El Paso County, Colo.; a new reservoir along the western portion of the pipeline to manage Green River withdrawals; and a terminus reservoir near Pueblo.

Other project features would include nine gas-powered pump stations, 501 miles of 72- and 120-inch buried pipeline, seven transmission lines of about 30.6 miles in length from switchyards near the hydro plants to the electricity grid.

The project would be located in Adams, Arapahoe, Elbert, El Paso, Larimer, Pueblo, and Weld counties in Colorado, and Albany, Carbon, Laramie, and Sweetwater counties in Wyoming.

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