600-MW Russell pumped-storage project receives permission to run all units

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received permission to operate all four reversible turbine units simultaneously at its 600-MW Richard B. Russell pumped-storage plant after a decade of litigation, HydroWorld.com has learned.

The Russell project is located on the Savannah River along the Georgia/South Carolina border and is operated by the Corps’ Savannah District, which had been barred from running the four pump-back units at the same time due to concerns about their impact on fish.

As per a 2002 environmental lawsuit settlement, the Corps was required to complete certain mitigation — most recently in the form of an oxygen system for striped bass and other species of fish downstream from Russell Dam.

The fish habitat was actually finished in 2011 and tested in 2012, but mechanical repairs to the hydropower plant’s pump-back units prevented them from being used this past year.

Their operation now, however, starts five years of court-ordered environmental monitoring that will evaluate the Russell plant’s effect on fish populations.

In addition to the four 75 MW reversible units, Russell is also home to four 75 MW conventional generating units.

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