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Closed-loop pumped storage hydropower is the cleanest technology for large-scale energy storage, according to an analysis conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Pumped storage systems such as the Swan Lake Energy Storage Project rank as having the lowest potential to add to the problem of global warming for energy storage when accounting for the full impacts of materials and construction.

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The Goldendale Energy Storage Project represents a rare opportunity to bring back valuable jobs while infusing Klickitat County tax districts with $14 million annually, says Leslie Hiebert, outgoing CEO of Klickitat Valley Hospital. It would help revitalize our infrastructure, and raise the value of other local assets for decades to come.

The wind turbines in our backyard serve as an everyday reminder that energy is a vital resource which directly impacts our community’s health. The Goldendale Energy Storage Project would benefit residents of Klickitat County, our hospital, and the environmental and economic vitality of our community.

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The Goldendale Energy Storage Project is a key component to a sustainable energy future for the Pacific Northwest while creating high quality family wage jobs, says Mark Riker, Executive Secretary for the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.

The proposed project would create 3,000 jobs — jobs that would offer competitive wages and safe working conditions, and prioritize local workers, thanks to an agreement with the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council. Furthermore, it would infuse over $2 billion into the economies of rural Washington.

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On May 22, 2023, the WA Department of Ecology issued a Section 401 Water Quality Certification under the federal Clean Water Act for the Goldendale Energy Storage Project.

“Today, we are one step closer to creating a more sustainable energy future for the Pacific Northwest,” says Erik Steimle, Vice President at Rye Development. “We appreciate the work of the Washington Department of Ecology to issue a 401 Water Quality Certificate for the Goldendale Energy Storage Project, providing conditions so that this project’s construction and operation will meet state water quality requirements. This is a key permit, and Rye looks forward to continuing to work with state and federal officials to make pumped storage hydropower a reality in Southern Washington.

For more information, visit the Washington Department of Ecology.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeks comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Goldendale Energy Storage Project. An EIS is not a permit, and it’s not an approval for the project to move forward. An EIS provides decision-makers important information about potential environmental impacts resulting from the construction and operation of the project.

The $2 billion+ Goldendale Energy Storage Project will enable the region to harness excess renewable energy and then release that energy during times of high demand. It’s a project we can’t afford to lose, as it creates more than 3,000 family-wage jobs and spur economic growth. Once in operation, the Goldendale Project will produce enough clean energy to power 500,000 homes while contributing $14 million annually to Klickitat County.

Review the draft EIS

Go here to review the draft EIS, which is a significant milestone for the Goldendale Energy Storage Project. It is critical that FERC hear from community members and stakeholders during the public comment period, which ends June 6.

How to participate

There are two ways to share your perspective with FERC and the community about the environmental and economic benefits of the Goldendale project:

1.) Attend an in-person public hearing, Wed., May 3
Meeting times: 9 a.m. - noon and 7 p.m.-9 p.m.
Meeting location: Goldendale Grange Hall, 228 E. Darland Dr., Goldendale, WA

2.) Submit written comments by June 6
File an e-comment through the FERC website.
It takes about 5-10 minutes to follow 5 easy steps.
You will need the docket number, which is: P-14861-002

Go HERE to submit comments.

Have questions?

Attend a virtual info meeting, May 17
Join this meeting hosted by Rye to learn about the project and get tips on how to e-file comments to FERC.
Meeting time: 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

Send us an email to RSVP.

On March 14, 2023, Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-04) toured the site of the proposed Goldendale Energy Storage Project with Erik Steimle of Rye Development and Kevin Ricks of Klickitat PUD. We appreciate Rep. Newhouse’s support of the $2+ billion project that would bring 3,000 jobs, $14 million in annual tax revenue to Klickitat County, and enough clean energy to power 500,000 homes while having minimal environmental impacts.

Wondering how pumped storage works and why this decades-old energy storage technology is making a comeback? Listen to the latest episode of Northwest RiverPartners’ podcast featuring Rye Development's Erik Steimle.

Or listen here.

The Washington State Department of Ecology has completed an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Goldendale Energy Storage Project. The comprehensive, science-based EIS will now be used by permitting agencies as they make decisions on permits needed for the project.

Continue reading the news release here.

As president of the Longview/Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council, I would like to express my frustration after reading the Op-Ed regarding the pumped storage project in Goldendale and the authors’ disregarding of critical information about the proposal. The authors included some legitimate concerns, but Goldendale will be an important link in meeting our climate goals. Furthermore, Washington’s labor force has decades of experience in environmentally responsible practices.

This same labor force would benefit from the Goldendale project, bringing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to Klickitat County. The economic boost supports local infrastructure, schools and libraries while helping to meet our climate goals. Goldendale’s utility-scale storage offers 1,200 megawatts of storage for nearby wind and solar. By boosting these sources’ reliability, Goldendale would help eliminate nearly 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Additionally, the closed system incorporates hydropower without requiring additional dams.

Extreme weather highlights the urgency of our clean-energy transition. The Goldendale project would help our workforce while implementing sustainable practices to minimize ecological impact. This project is an important solution to our region’s economical and energy needs.

Mike Bridges, Longview

Continue reading the opinion here.

This potential energy, held for use until needed, is why pumped storage hydropower is called “the world’s biggest battery.” More than 60 projects are being built worldwide, mostly in Europe and Asia. The Goldendale project would benefit from at least a 30% investment tax credit through the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law last week by President Joe Biden, officials said.

The roughly $2.5 billion project is expected to generate about 3,000 family-wage jobs over its five-year construction and 50 to 60 full-time positions once it is up and running. It would also produce a projected $14 million in tax revenue for the region. The project has a wide range of supporters, including unions, the City of Goldendale, Klickitat County and the five-county, two-state Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, which considers it a top priority for Washington in its comprehensive economic development strategy.

To put the project’s energy output in perspective, the embattled Lower Snake River Dams have a 3,500-megawatt capacity, although on average they produce about 900 megawatts of zero-carbon energy each year, according to a 2022 Bonneville Power Administration analysis.

Continue reading the article here.

... Central Klickitat County has 1250MW of large wind power installed while Klickitat PUD’s peak demand for the whole county is 88MW. We are by far a net exporter of energy. For comparison, and according to, Yakima County uses 3000.97% of the total amount of the electricity that it produces, King County produces only 2% of its own electricity while Klickitat County consumes about 2.02% of the electricity that is produced here — we produce 49 times more electricity than we use!

We should be really proud of that fact. We are blessed with abundant water, wind, sunshine and renewable natural gas from the landfill and we are able to export those renewable resources at considerable benefit to our local landowners, community and labor force.

One of the challenges with all this power being produced here is that there are times when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining but the demand for electricity regionally is low — and less valuable. The proposed Goldendale pumped storage project would provide our region with the opportunity to store a large amount of the renewable energy we already create on a daily basis and deploy it when it is needed.

Continue reading the commentary here.

This is power as green as it gets. The closed-loop pumped storage system is completely carbon-emission free. It doesn’t harm fish, raise the temperature in the river, snag predatory birds, or give off any kind of pollution. And since the working parts are all underground, there’s no scenic impacts. The only things visible on the surface will be the two ponds.

As an added benefit, Steimle says, digging the lower lake will require removing the pollution left behind by the aluminum smelter from the western edge of the site. The project owner, CIP, plans to spend $10 million on that cleanup alone.

“This site has been studied for years,” Steimle says. “It has a number of advantages.”

Geographically, he says, it’s rare to have such a difference in height available in such a short horizontal distance. Using major onsite power lines that once supplied power to the aluminum smelter means that the company won’t have to spend millions building new lines to hook into the Northwest power grid. And the water rights that formerly belonged to the smelter was acquired by Klickitat PUD when the smelter closed. The plan calls for the ponds to fill initially, then operate as a closed system, only adding a little water each year to replace the small amount lost to evaporation. The project will use a small fraction of the water (per year) that the aluminum smelter used when operational.

The project won’t even have to build any new roads, since the upper site is accessible through roads built when the wind turbines were constructed.

Continue reading the article here.

Wind turbines and solar panels are renewable sources of energy that do not emit greenhouse gasses, but they suffer from a lack of storage. By design they cannot function at certain times – only when the sun shines and the wind blows – making them known as “variable” or “intermittent” energy sources.

With the renewable energy industry growing steadily in the past two decades in the Columbia River Gorge, due in part to the natural geography of the region, state-led initiatives to make the electrical grid carbon-neutral as well as innovations in the sector that has made investments in renewable energy more viable, private companies are moving in to capitalize on the demand for storage that troubles renewable energy suppliers.

“The demand for storage is in excess,” Steimle said.

Continue reading the article here.

On a recent tour of the site, the wind spun turbine blades near where the energy storage project would be built, but Steimle said no power was generated because recent rains caused the hydropower system to run at full capacity. A pumped storage project would help take advantage of all the energy left on the table now, he said.

“This is more like a day that we would typically see in April,” Stiemle said at the project tour June 22. “When the hydro facilities on the Columbia are operating at a full rate, it can be difficult for the wind to fully deliver its generation into the system.”

Moreover, Steimle said, the pumped storage project has a 100-year lifespan, which could help balance the grid long-term.

Continue reading the article here.

On this episode of Grounded, we dive into the hot topic of energy storage, specifically- pumped-storage hydropower. ODOE’s own Rebecca Smith joins us, as well as Erik Steimle from Rye Development, for this fascinating and timely discussion.

Listen at the Oregon Department of Energy Grounded Podcast site by clicking here.

A proposed closed-loop pumped hydro storage facility near Goldendale is again moving forward. The Goldendale Energy Storage Project proposes to store “clean” energy generated by wind and solar projects.

“It’s an old sort of ‘back to the future’ project,” said Michael Rooney, vice president of Project Management for Rye Development, LLC. “We think closed-loop pumped hydro storage is critical to the grid, specifically in the Pacific Northwest.”

Continue reading the article here.

In this episode of the Focus 15, TJ Martinell speaks with Rye Development Vice President of Project Development Erik Steimle about a new clean energy project near Goldendale.

Listen on The Lens by clicking here.

Washington utility providers face two challenges in the near future: finding additional electricity to prevent outages while also complying with state Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) requirements to rely more on clean energy sources—most of which lack storage capacity.

A proposed closed-system hydro pump storage project by Rye Development near Goldendale could help meet both objectives. When completed, the wind-solar-hydro system will be able to generate and store electricity sufficient to power the equivalent of the Seattle metro area for 12 hours. Additionally, the project would boost the local economy during its four-year construction.

A major issue for utilities trying to comply with CETA is that wind and solar can only provide electricity when weather allows for its generation. While a hydroelectric dam is capable of storing its energy, various constraints – including concerns over the impact to salmon migration – make it unlikely that more will be built. There have also been efforts over the years to have existing dams on the lower Snake River removed, action which requires congressional authorization.

The Goldendale project avoids these issues due to its closed-system design. The site uses wind and solar energy, when available, to pump 60 acres worth of water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir. During high demand periods, water is then released back through the pumps and passes through a turbine to generate electricity.

Continue reading the article here.

Learn how pumped storage hydropower works and see how this project will use excess wind power to generate 1,200 MW of clean electricity when residents and businesses need it most.

Watch the news report on KGW.

Washington’s Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck visited Klickitat County Monday at the invitation of Goldendale City Council member Miland Walling. He and his wife, Paula Fruci, got a briefing on the proposed Goldendale pumped storage project from a viewpoint on Highway 14 overlooking the site of the former Goldendale aluminum plant.

Asked for his reaction, Heck replied: “What’s not to like? A project that creates all these jobs, both in the short term, but also on the ongoing basis, and something that creates renewable, carbon-free energy.”

Read the rest of the article at The Goldendale Sentinel.

Oregon and Washington are taking great strides to decarbonize the Northwest Energy Grid, however to achieve their clean energy goals while providing reliable, always-on electricity, the region will need new, innovative energy storage.

And while our national energy labs and smart private sector entrepreneurs are working on increased battery storage capabilities, others are focused on pumped storage projects. These projects pump water uphill when there is surplus electricity and release it to flow back downhill through hydropower turbines when power is needed.

When the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, grid operators and electric utilities will need to rely on proven energy storage technologies to ensure the continued reliable delivery of electricity. Providing 95% of all U.S. energy storage capacity, pumped hydropower is an important one of those proven technologies. And the Goldendale pumped hydropower storage project is precisely the project the Northwest needs to ease our transition into a carbon-free future.

To continue reading the full article, click here.

The Gorge pumped-hydro project will bring jobs and help grid managers increase energy storage capacity

This winter’s weather-related blackouts in Texas, last summer’s rolling blackouts in California, the threat of emergency power shutoffs during our wildfire season—these are all reminders of how fragile our power grids can be. Our national electric grid—which is a huge network of power plants, transmission lines and distribution centers—is undergoing vast changes due to the need to update aging infrastructure and meet a growing demand for emissions-free electricity.

As the Pacific Northwest region’s utilities add more renewable energy to the electric grid, they face a big challenge: how to store excess solar and wind energy so we can use it when we need it most?

Energy storage has rapidly emerged as an essential component to a low-carbon energy future.

To continue reading the full article, click here.

Weather-related blackouts in Texas earlier this year and the rolling blackouts in California last year are further reminders of how fragile our power grids can be.

As utilities go through the process of planning to comply with Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) we must acknowledge we have the same vulnerabilities here. Washington utilities therefore must include robust carbon-free energy infrastructure in their energy portfolios.

Washington state led the nation when Gov. Jay Inslee signed CETA in 2019. This groundbreaking legislation requires that our state’s utilities supply Washingtonians with 100% clean carbon-free power by 2045.

Now our region’s utilities like Puget Sound Energy have just gone through the process of developing integrated resource plans (IRP) that involve planning how to remove global greenhouse gas emitting energy sources from their portfolios and replace them with carbon-free sources of power for utility customers. This is a daunting task and we all must support the utilities as they work through this very complex and unprecedented process. In turn, the utilities must properly consider all available technology to supply Washingtonians with the affordable clean power we need.

To continue reading the full article, visit the Puget Sound Business Journal or click here.

The U.S. Department of Energy, in conjunction with Argonne National Laboratory, released a pumped storage hydropower (PSH) valuation guidebook today that will allow utility companies, project developers, and other stakeholders to accurately weigh the benefits of PSH projects, like the Goldendale Energy Storage Project.

“We’re glad to see this valuation guidebook released, and are proud in our role in helping to provide a test case as to the guidebook’s application to our project proposed for Goldendale, WA,” said Michael Rooney, Vice President of Project Management for Rye Development. “Our project will be key to helping the region meet its energy goals by generating 1,200 megawatts of clean electricity while also storing the region’s abundant wind and solar electricity for use during off peak hours, in a competitive and low-cost fashion.”

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) launched the HydroWIRES Initiative to “to understand, enable, and improve hydropower and pumped storage hydropower’s contributions to reliability, resilience, and integration in the rapidly evolving U.S. electricity system.”

Continue reading the press release here.

A massive renewable energy storage facility in the Columbia River Gorge will be built with union labor, thanks to a newly signed agreement between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and two area building trades councils. The proposed project is expected to cost $2.1 billion to construct and will employ over 3,000 workers during a four-year construction period.

When it’s complete it would solve one of the biggest challenges of wind and solar power—how to store electricity for use when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. The Goldendale Energy Storage Project would use electricity from nearby wind and solar to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher one, later releasing that water from the upper reservoir to turn hydroelectric turbines and generate electricity. It’s a closed-loop system known as pumped-storage hydropower, and projects like it are in development around the country.

To continue reading the article, please click here.

Last summer’s California blackouts and the recent ones in Texas left millions of Americans from all walks of life without power. The aftermath of these blackouts has clearly illustrated that grid operators need reliable energy storage resources to carry the load of increasing demand for renewable energy. Providing the overwhelming majority of the current energy storage capacity, pumped hydropower, like the proposed Goldendale Energy Storage Project, is clearly positioned to meet this unquenched demand for energy storage in the Pacific Northwest.

As the Texas and California blackouts have illustrated, storing energy for when it is needed is vital. Why? Because the frequency of these blackouts will become more of the norm rather than a one-off occurrence if the electric grid isn’t able to store the vast amounts of clean energy produced from renewables.

The United States has made great strides in the deployment of renewable energy like wind and solar. But as ubiquitous as they are becoming in today’s energy mix, renewable resources are intermittent, meaning the electricity they produce fluctuates daily, if not hourly. Or, as Bill Gates noted in 2019, “Wind and solar-powered generation is expanding, but one challenge we face is how to store that energy when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.”

So, what is the solution? Without a doubt, the advancements in lithium-ion batteries as a storage mechanism have been impressive, and will continue to be. But the simple fact remains that pumped-hydropower facilities still provide 95 percent of the current energy storage availability in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Continue reading please click here.

A major trade union and construction council have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with energy investment company Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to work on the proposed Goldendale Energy Storage Project.

The Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO and the Columbia Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council entered into the MOU regarding a Project Labor Agreement in the construction of the project, it was announced Friday.

To read the full article, please click here.

CIP acquires Swan Lake and Goldendale, 393 MW and 1,200 MW pumped storage hydro projects located in Oregon and Washington, USA

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), on behalf of Copenhagen Infrastructure IV K/S, has acquired ownership of the Swan Lake (Klamath County, Oregon) and Goldendale (Klickitat County, Washington) closed-loop pump storage hydro projects. The projects were previously owned and in development under a joint venture between Rye Development (Rye) and National Grid.

“At CIP, we focus on teaming with leading developers and making investments in energy infrastructure assets with a high degree of stability in cash flows,” said Christian Skakkebæk, Senior Partner at CIP. “With the long investment horizon of our funds, it enables us to participate in large projects overseeing contracting, de-risking, financing, construction and operation. Pumped storage hydro is a unique and valuable asset class that will be a key resource as the global transition to renewable energy continues to accelerate in states such as Oregon, Washington and Montana.”

Rye will continue to lead development of the two projects until start of construction. Rye is the leading developer of new hydropower at existing non-powered dams and closed loop pumped storage hydro, in North America.

“CIP acquiring Swan Lake and Goldendale is a great fit for completion of the projects,” said Erik Steimle, Vice President at Rye Development. “CIP recognizes the long term importance of new storage infrastructure projects to help harness and store wind and solar energy for meeting peak demand as both Washington and Oregon move toward a 100 percent clean electricity grid, cost-effectively and reliably.”

To read the full press release, please click here.

Rye Development is pleased to announce our agreement with environmental and industry organizations recognizing the importance of new hydropower for integrating wind/solar into the US electric grid to increase the climate resilience of US rivers.

The “Joint Statement of Collaboration” is the result of a diverse range of organizations, companies, government agencies and universities committed to charting hydropower’s role in a U.S. clean energy future in a way that also supports healthy rivers. To rapidly and substantially decarbonize the nation’s electricity system, the parties to the Joint Statement recognize the role that U.S. hydropower plays as an important renewable energy resource and for integrating variable solar and wind power into the U.S. electric grid. At the same time, our nation’s waterways, and the biodiversity and ecosystem services they sustain, are vulnerable to the compounding factors of a changing climate, habitat loss and alteration of river processes. The parties have identified seven areas for joint collaboration. Over the next 60 days, the parties have agreed to invite other key stakeholders, including tribal governments and state officials, to join the collaboration, and to address implementation priorities, decision-making, timetables, and resources.

The Joint Statement was developed under a Stanford Uncommon Dialogue co-convened by Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, the Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, and the Energy Futures Initiative

To read the Joint Statement, please click here.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced selections for its Notice of Opportunity for Technical Assistance (NOTA) to perform techno-economic studies to evaluate the long-term value of two selected pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) projects. While PSH projects were initially built to balance the electricity system between period of high demand during the day and low demand at night, increases in variable renewable generation have changed how plants are operated and the value they provide to the grid. For example, instead of generating during the day and pumping at night, many plants now change operational modes multiple times per day and are relied on to provide quick ramping or frequency response. Determining the value of PSH under these changing grid conditions is a significant challenge that requires new modeling tools and analysis. These studies will provide PSH developers with improved capabilities to estimate the value of a proposed PSH project and compare financial revenue streams under current market structures relative to the economic value of PSH projects to the grid.

To read the announcement, please click here.

"Klickitat County has already been a leader in energy policy, implementing one of the most advanced policies in the nation to cover the county with wind and now they're looking at pump storage which is a good solution to renewable energy, to have something that would balance it out. So seeing this project today, we want to make sure that the federal government is putting in place what are the rules for projects like pump storage to occur. That's what we're trying to encourage them to do. What are the parameters, what would be the process by which projects like this could be considered, so the county could submit something and have that considered.

As we look at storage, it's going to be a big part of our grid. And the solutions for us in Washington state, since we did pioneer affordable electricity from our hydro system, we can see how important that is to our competitiveness as a nation. The more we have affordable electricity and we keep making investments in energy efficiency, the more the United States is going to produce a lot of jobs and be successful."

Continue reading Senator Cantwell's comments here.

A representative of the British government, three U.S senators, a U.S. congresswoman, personnel from the governor's office and Washington State departments, a full complement of district legislators, commissioners from two counties, and an assortment of highly interested parties met last Tuesday to hear about and provide input on a planned pumped storage energy project for Klickitat County.

The project, with the potential to prime the economic engine of the eastern Gorge, looked a lot closer to reality after the meeting. That project, on the site of the former Golden Northwest Aluminum smelter, has been a long-held goal of the Klickitat PUD. Recently, it has attracted the attention of major players in the electricity market who have both the money and the know-how to finance and construct the facility. Their involvement would take the burden of financing the project off the KPUD.

The idea is both simple in concept and bold in execution. It would involve constructing two 65-acre ponds, one on the former site of the smelter and one at the top of the cliff. Each would hold 7,000 acre-feet of water. During the times when wind blows well, and the many wind turbines in the region generate more power than the grid can currently absorb, the energy would be used to pump water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir. When the wind dies down, and electricity is needed, water from the upper reservoir can be released through a large pipe, turning a turbine to generate that electrical power as it rushes to the lower reservoir.

Please click here to continue reading the article.

A proposed $2 billion pumped-hydro energy storage project alongside the Columbia River has taken a “small but very important step" forward, as backers termed it, winning a permit from federal regulators to explore its feasibility.

Other similar proposals at the site, 110 miles upriver from Portland, have made it to this point before, then faded away in the face of a tangle of financing, regulatory and energy market issues.

But the project leader this time around, Rye Development believes the rising need for flexible generating capacity on a grid with evermore variable wind and solar provides a compelling rationale for what it calls the Goldendale Energy Storage Project.

The preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission runs for three years and gives the Rye group dibs on applying for a license to actually build a facility.

To continue reading the article, please click here.

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.