By Matt Preusch
U.S. Department of the Interior
The Mt. Elbert Pumped Storage power plant in Colorado.
Four Northwest governors have sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu voicing their support for studying “pumped storage” hydropower sites in the region.
These wouldn’t be dams built on rivers, but rather storage ponds that hold diverted water that could be sent downhill through turbines when extra energy is needed.
The idea is to identify large new power sources that can balance the region’s increasing dependence on wind power, which can’t power microwaves and toasters when wind tower blades aren’t spinning.
“Consequently, there is broad technical and policy consensus across the Western United States to develop increased system flexibility, energy storage, and balancing reserves to manage the rapid expansion of wind generation and other intermittent renewable resources,” said the May 28 letter signed by the governors of Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington.
The letter asks Chu to approve the Bonneville Power Administration’s request for more funding to study possible pumped storage projects.
“Well-designed pumped storage, powered by renewable energy and sensitive to environmental considerations, has potential to support integrating renewable energy into our energy grid,” Gov. Ted Kulongoski said in a statement accompanying the letter.
— Matthew Preusch, email@example.com