FERC Proposal for the Ashokan Pumped Storage Hydro Facility

Last modified on February 1st, 2022 at 4:55 pm

The Town of Olive was recently made aware of a Preliminary Permit application entitled the Ashokan Pumped Storage Project currently before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  We received a public notification letter of the project from Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley who forwarded it to us on February 18.  The town had no prior knowledge of the FERC application nor any prior communication with the applicant, Premium Energy of Walnut, CA.  NYC DEP has since been in communication with the town and assured us they had received no prior notification of the proposal either.  As you can imagine, this was alarming news for us to receive especially in such a blindsided fashion.

The town is investigating the legal and regulatory processes of the FERC proposal. We are identifying impacts the project could have on our community and are in communication with other agencies and stakeholders researching and sharing various perspectives on the proposal. The FERC Preliminary Permit process has a 60-day window of which to comment and during this time the Town will be looking into an appropriate response.  The public can comment on the link provided at the end of this post.

The Preliminary Permit application proposes a two-year term to conduct a feasibility study of the areas identified in the proposal for a hydroelectric plant. The proposal calls for the Ashokan Reservoir water and its existing dam to be used as a lower reservoir in a pumped storage power plant facility. The proposal also calls for an upper reservoir to be newly constructed at a higher elevation in the Catskill Mountains. The Wittenberg Stream at the end of Moonhaw Road, the Woodland Valley in Shandaken, and Stoney Clove on Route 214 in the Town of Hunter, Greene County have all been identified as potential sites for an upper reservoir of which one will be selected. The proposed upper reservoirs would encompass areas ranging from 226-313 surface area acres and require the construction of dams varying in length from 2527-2736 feet and 212-304 feet in height depending on the chosen location.

The proposal describes a closed-loop hydro storage facility to release water from the upper reservoir to the lower during times of need on the electrical grid.  The water would then be pumped up to the higher reservoir at night when electricity rates and grid use are lower. The water would travel from the upper and lower reservoirs in a tunnel with diameters ranging from 29-50 feet. The preliminary designs also include an underground powerhouse 550’ long by 25’ wide and 150‘ high and an underground transformer station 165’ long by 60’ wide by 50’ high located west of the Ashokan Reservoir.  The project also identifies a Ashokan Switchyard for transmission lines but does not describe any specific location or dimensions.

12.9 to 17.3 miles of transmission lines are proposed from the Ashokan Switchyard to the existing Hurley Avenue Substation in the Town of Ulster. The details of the transmission lines are vague and will be designed during the term of the FERC Preliminary Permit. The proposed plan would generate 800MW of electrical power for 12 hours. No construction will take place during the Preliminary Permit term with the exception of soil and rack sampling.

The Town of Olive is in the process of studying the proposal and will update the community as more information is forthcoming. Please understand this is simply an application for a feasibility study that will have further input from the Town of Olive, Ulster County, NYC DEP, and NYS DEC. In addition, other stakeholders in our community will have the opportunity to weigh in with their perspectives.  FERC will rule whether to accept the Preliminary Permit application after the 60-day comment period.

Comments by the public, of up to 6,000 characters, can be sent to FERC at the link below regarding the Premium Energy Holdings LLC Preliminary Permit application for the Ashokan Pumped Storage Project .  Please refer to Project # 15056-000 in your comments. Comments will only be accepted up to April 12, 2021.

Project # 15056-000

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Here’s some further information:

Ashokan Reservoir Power Plant Proposal

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