A short rope for Xcel and pumped storage — @BigPivots

Scenic Unaweep Canyon. Photo credit: Allen Best/Big Pivots

Click the link to read the article on the Big Pivots website (Allen Best):

Xcel Energy asked for permission to spend up to $15 million in investigating whether a pumped-storage hydro project in Unaweep Canyon, south of Grand Junction, is feasible.

No, said Colorado Public Utility Commission members at a meeting on June 10. You can get $1 million that can be recovered from customers but no more.

Pumped hydroelectric generation illustrated. Graphic via The Mountain Town News

The company has filed for a preliminary permit application with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, putting it in more or less the same stage of the planning process as the Craig-Hayden projects. Which is to say early.

“I just see this project has having enormous environmental, financial and technological risks,” said Commissioner John Gavan.

Eric Blank, the commission chairman, had said he would be willing to go for $5 million as there seems to be a gap in funding for development of ideas and before they can be solidified. “It’s a little bit of a chicken-and-egg problem.”

Megan Gilman, the third commissioner, said she was inclined to reject Xcel’s proposal.

The canyon does have tremendous vertical relief. It’s a canyon without a river, although some geologists have conjectured it was originally a pathway for the Colorado River.

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