Northwest governors back BPA call for pumped storage study

The governors of four Pacific Northwest states have urged Energy Secretary Steven Chu to approve requests by Bonneville Power Administration for funding to study pumped-storage hydropower sites to support intermittent renewable resources.

Govs. C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho, Brian Schweitzer of Montana, Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, and Christine Gregoire of Washington wrote Chu in support of the BPA proposal May 28, saying additional pumped storage is needed to support increased amounts of wind power and other intermittent renewables being added to the BPA transmission system.

A study presented to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March indicated pumped-storage plants are needed to support expanded renewables portfolio standards. (HydroWorld 3/5/09)

“There is broad technical and policy consensus across the western United States to develop increased system flexibility, energy storage, and balancing reserves to manage the rapid expansion of wind generation and other intermittent renewable resources,” the governors wrote. “We believe that pumped storage technology warrants further analysis and that funding is integral to supporting a better understanding of the process and its application in the Northwest’s energy system.”

The governors said the Pacific Northwest, with its significant hydroelectric resources and growing commitment to wind energy, would be an excellent proving ground for emissions-free technology.

In February, Chu called for increased investment in pumped-storage hydropower to support an expanded electricity transmission grid that would carry a greater share of intermittent generation from wind and solar sources. (HydroWorld 2/25/09)

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