- Absaroka Energy has lined up financing for a planned 400 MW pumped hydro project near Martinsdale, Montana, through an equity investment from Denmark's Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP).
- The $1 billion closed loop Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro project has already received construction and operation permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and developers say construction could start next year.
- Proposed in 2010, the hydroelectric project is designed to help integrate more renewable energy onto the Pacific Northwest electrical grid. Developers say the project site is located six miles from the Colstrip twin 500 kV transmission lines.
Project developers are still searching for utilities to purchase the energy from Gordon Butte, according to reports, but Absaroka's funding announcement on July 8 is a major step forward for the project.
The hydro project could help make Montana "the epicenter of Northwest U.S. energy generation potential," Absaroka President Carl Borgquist said in a statement.
A U.S. Department of Energy study of hydroelectric potential concluded the United States could grow the resource from its current 101 GW to nearly 150 GW of combined electricity generating and storage capacity by 2050.
Absaroka said the project is in an "advanced stage of development and will be ready for construction in 2020."
GE Renewable Energy will supply the pump and turbine equipment. Absaroka bills the project as a potential alternative to more gas-fired generation.
"As regional energy capacity becomes more constrained," advanced pumped storage provides twice the operational capacity as its nameplate capacity, is "faster-acting, is able to both ramp up and down, and does not carry the fuel costs and risks of natural gas-fired facilities," the company said.