- Longview Energy Exchange plans to build a 2,000-MW pumped storage hydroelectric project in northern Arizona to help integrate renewable energy across the West, according to a presentation given to Southwest transmission planners this week.
- The Longview project is competitive with natural-gas fired plants in Wyoming and hydroelectric resources in British Columbia in firming large amounts of renewable generation, according to studies.
- Longview believes the project is financially viable and can be brought online in 2021.
Longview is one of the largest pumped storage projects planned in the West. Typically, pumped storage projects pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir at night when power prices are low. Water is released back to the lower reservoir when power is needed. The projects can help integrate solar and wind onto the grid.
However, pumped storage projects face two key challenges: they cost a lot to build and they can be hard to get through the permitting process.
There is about 16,575 MW of existing pumped storage in the U.S., and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is in the final stages of reviewing license applications for projects totaling about 2,700 MW. In a sign of the interest in pumped storage, FERC has issued preliminary permits for 48,100 MW.
It is too early to say if pumped storage will prove to be a viable option for integrating renewables compared with natural gas-fired plants, which are significantly less expensive to build.