Energy policy — hydroelectric: Interest in pumped hydro project near Penrose gets a boost from HB 11-1083

Pumped storage hydro electric.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

Jim and Mark Morley of the Morley Cos. have been working for years on a proposed plant on land they own near Brush Hollow Reservoir. The developers have piqued the interest of energy giant TransCanada, as well as state lawmakers, who passed a bill — signed Tuesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper — to encourage this and other such projects.

Instead of a traditional hydroelectric plant powered by flowing water, the Morleys want to build the third pumped hydroelectric storage plant in Colorado. It would work by pumping water uphill to a reservoir when demand is low and letting it run down to power turbines when electric use is high or other parts of a system, such as solar or wind, are not generating much power. The water is used over and over. This form of production doesn’t impact aquatic life by warming water or acting as a barrier to fish like many traditional hydro plants. “Pumped storage is somewhat of a unique energy asset, because it provides not only energy storage but significant benefits to the transmission system,” said Kyle Nenninger with Chicago-based Energy Advisory Partners, who is assisting the Morleys on the project.

The proposed plant would have the capacity to generate 432 megawatts — a megawatt powers 750 to 1,000 homes at any given time — and employ 300 workers during construction and provide 25 to 30 permanent jobs, Nenninger said. He said the reservoirs above and below the plant probably would not be open to public recreation. There are many uncertainties, including who would provide a one-time sale of 13,000 acre-feet, or 4.2 billion gallons, of water — to be piped from the Arkansas River — to run the plant…

The other pumped storage hydroelectric plants in Colorado are also in rural areas: Xcel Energy’s 300-megawatt Cabin Creek plant near Georgetown and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s 200-megawatt Mt. Elbert Powerplant at Twin Lakes.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

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