$1B Montana pumped storage hydro project secures funding

Source: By Robert Walton, Utility Dive • Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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.​