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Agreed delay for USA pumped-storage scheme 11 Oct 2018

Patrick Reynolds for TunnelTalk

The USA Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has agreed to let developer GB Energy Park LLC delay the start of construction of the planned Gordon Butte pumped storage hydroelectric project in Montana, which involves major underground works.

Gordon Butte PS construction start pushed back
Gordon Butte PS construction start pushed back

Under the 50-year build and operate licence granted by FERC, construction was to start before mid-December this year (2018) for completion by 2021. But as GB Energy Park is still completing design and scheduling, and carrying out more geological site investigations, it sought a time extension.

FERC has granted a one-time only extension of up to two years, pushing back the deadline for commencement to late 2020. The one-time extension is permitted under the Federal Power Act, limited to a maximum of two years.

According to the original licence, awarded in 2016, GB Energy Park also had five years from that time to complete construction. Last month, in its application for extra time, GB Energy Park noted it would seek an extension to the completion deadline of the project “when more definitive information is available”.

The project will link the two surface reservoirs via a 738ft (227m) deep vertical shaft and a 3,000ft (923m) long headrace. The tunnel will lead to a subsurface powerhouse. The plant capacity is expected to be 400MW and the entire hydraulic system is to operate in a closed loop cycle that will not need much water to be added.

The developer, GB Energy Park, is a special purpose company for the project and is a subsidiary of Montana-based Absaroka Energy.

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