F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Pumped-storage facilities are closed-loop systems that move water between a lower reservoir and an upper reservoir. Water is released from the upper reservoir and used to turn hydroelectric turbines to generate electricity before being collected in the lower reservoir and then returned to the upper reservoir to repeat the process. When the energy used to return the water is from solar or wind, as it is with the Goldendale Energy Storage Project, pumped storage is a carbon- and pollution-free source of on-demand power.

Pumped storage facilities are the most common form of energy storage in the U.S., representing 93%1 of all utility scale storage, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Pumped storage is a proven, available technology that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Without a massive amount of additional storage capacity, we can’t bring more renewable resources onto the power grid, which is needed to meet Washington, Oregon, and California’s 100% clean energy mandates.

The two biggest sources of renewable energy — wind and solar power — are variable, which means they produce electricity only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Sometimes the generation from wind and solar facilities isn’t available when it’s needed. Utility scale storage facilities such as the Goldendale Energy Storage Project allows energy generated from wind and solar resources to be stored and used when demand is highest. Specifically, in Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest, storage facilities like Goldendale will be necessary to replace the retiring fossil fuel-based electricity generation that previously kept the lights on when renewables were not available.

As the proposed project would reuse part of the footprint of a previously developed industrial site, use an existing water right owned by Klickitat PUD, and be located near BPA transmission lines, the existing John Day Substation, and nearby wind farms, the project site is an ideal location for pumped storage. The region’s electricity grid has a direct and urgent need to add large-scale, long-duration energy storage to allow Washington, Oregon and California make the transition to 100% renewable energy.

The Goldendale Energy Storage Project will generate 1,200 MW of renewable energy — enough electricity to power about 500,000 homes in the Pacific Northwest for about 12 hours.

The Goldendale Project will be constructed on a 680-acre site. To put that into perspective, building a 1,200 MW wind project would require about 7,000 acres of land, and building a 1,200 MW solar project would require more than 50,000 acres of land.

When fully operational, the Goldendale Energy Storage Project will have the capacity to store the hydro equivalent of 25,506 megawatt hours of electricity (or about 20 hours of storage).

For comparison, to obtain the equivalent and necessary grid storage through lithium-ion batteries would require more than 1,000 semi-trailer-sized batteries throughout the region, including in locations connected to the main transmission systems running through the Columbia River Gorge.

The Goldendale Energy Storage Project relieves the intense competition for limited amounts of lithium-ion batteries as we transition to a low-carbon economy, reserving those batteries for use in electric cars, in homes and office buildings, in data centers and more.

A recent study showed the Pacific Northwest would require 5-10 gigawatts of new storage for renewable energy during the next 10 years in order to meet states’ renewable energy goals.

This is the equivalent power generation that would come from building 2,000 – 6,000 new utility-scale wind turbines.2 Additionally, if that 5-15 gigawatts of new storage capacity was built relying entirely on lithium-ion battery technology, it would require approximately 275,000 – 825,000 acres3, or an area that on the high end would be larger than the entire state of Rhode Island.4

The Project is owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, an energy infrastructure investment company based in Denmark focused on greenfield and renewable energy projects. CIP has a long track record of investing in projects that address climate change, positively benefit local communities, and create good-paying jobs. The company’s corporate ethic principles are guided by the UN Principles for Responsible Investments and the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact.

Rye Development is leading the development for Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Rye Development is a locally based leading developer of new, low-impact hydro-powered energy generation and energy storage projects in the United States. The Rye Development team has lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest for decades.

Once the lower reservoir in a closed-loop facility is filled, water is recirculated between the lower and elevated reservoirs via a pipe deep underground. During times of surplus electricity (peak sun hours or windy days), the plant uses surplus energy to pump water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir. Then, during peak demand hours, the water is returned by gravity to the lower reservoir passing through turbine generators that generate electricity. In comparison, open-loop pumped storage projects are continuously connected to a naturally-flowing water feature, such as a river, often-times creating aquatic and terrestrial impacts that closed-loop facilities do not face.

The owner of the project, CIP, will be purchasing water from Klickitat PUD just like any other commercial water user to make up for water loss from evaporation. The water is already allocated. Klickitat PUD and the County have been focused on finding new water customers to use the water right that was formerly used by the aluminum smelter, in part to replace the good-paying jobs the smelter once provided. The Goldendale Project will use a fraction of the water once used by the aluminum smelter. There is a long-range development plan for the site, which will include additional commercial water users.

The project is in Klickitat County, Washington, approximately 8 miles southeast of the City of Goldendale. The proposed project sits on privately owned lands owned by NSC Smelter, LLC. All Project construction will occur either on these privately owned lands or within an existing utility right-of-way that is owned by the Bonneville Power Administration. Additionally, no new road infrastructure will be built during construction as the upper reservoir sits between an existing wind farm and the lower reservoir sits on the former aluminum smelter site. The lower reservoir construction will create over $10 million of environmental remediation investment at the smelter site.

For inquiries related to accessing the site, please contact GoldendaleAccess@gmail.com.

The project will infuse more than $2 billion dollars into rural areas of Washington and Oregon, benefiting local economies throughout the Gorge and providing Klickitat County with more than $14 million in new tax revenue annually. Specifically, new revenue will benefit schools, emergency support services, hospitals, fire departments, libraries, local roads, recreational districts, and County services for the most vulnerable. The Project will also create more than 3,000 family wage jobs during its four-year construction period, and as many as 70 permanent jobs in an area of the state that desperately needs them.

During construction, the project will create more than 3,000 family wage union jobs that will pay an hourly wage ranging from $44.65 to $85.00. In 2019, the median hourly wage for non-federal jobs in Klickitat County was $22.91.

In March 2021, the Project entered into an agreement with the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, ensuring the project will be built with union labor. Because of the long duration of the construction period, some workers will have the opportunity to complete a full construction apprenticeship on one job site, leaving the project trained and ready to be hired for future construction projects.

To address the climate crisis, lawmakers in California, Oregon, and Washington have mandated that 100% of their states’ electricity must come from clean resources. As a result, all regional utilities are seeking additional renewable electricity and storage capacity as they transition to a carbon-free grid. Numerous grid emergencies and 2020 blackouts in California have brought renewed attention to the need for backup power options to compliment the intermittent nature of renewable sources. Forecasts show the Pacific Northwest will need to plan for around 5,000-7,000 megawatts of additional carbon free storage capacity to support our transition to a carbon-free grid.

The Goldendale Energy Storage Project can provide significant storage capacity to help utilities meet their near and long-term generation and storage needs.

CIP is currently investing $10 million in site preparation. Much of this is being spent on environmental remediation of the land impacted by the former smelting facility.

In order to secure a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Rye Development submitted a thorough application in June 2020. The following studies were completed to support the license application: Geology and Soils, Engineering, Wildlife Habitat/Botanical, Sensitive Plants, Wetlands and Waters of the US, Cultural Resources, Visual Resources, and Socioeconomic. These studies conclusively demonstrate that the project will not adversely affect local fish or wildlife populations.

The project enjoys broad support. Supporters of the project include the Washington State Labor Council, Washington State Building Trades, Columbia Pacific Building Trades, Central Washington Building Trades, Longview/ Kelso Building Trades, Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, Klickitat Valley Health, Goldendale School District, Certified Electrical Workers of Washington, Klickitat PUD, Klickitat County and the City of Goldendale.

A safe, equitable, and environmentally sound way to store and integrate carbon free sources of electricity. Supporting Washington's efforts to meet its clean energy goals.