FERC Issues Licenses for Swan Lake Pumped Storage Project

From a press release

Rye Development received a 50-year construction and operational license from FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) for the Swan Lake Energy Storage Project on Tuesday.

The $750 million project may mean up to 3,000 temporary construction jobs when the project begins to turn dirt in 2021. Afterward, there will be a handful of jobs — 12 — to run the facility full time.

The Swan Lake project site is 11 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. Renewable electricity stored at the facility would be transmitted from the powerhouse along a 32.8-mile-long, 230-kilovolt (kV), above-ground transmission line to interconnect with the Malin substation.

It functions as a gravity-fed, hydroelectric facility, supplementing power for the electrical grid when needed. Water is pumped to a 60-acre upper reservoir when there is little demand for power. It is then released through pipes to the turbines to a lower reservoir during peak demands, and the power is put on the grid via transmission lines.

The license was issued after nearly a decade of project planning, development and review, according to a press release from the company.

“The issuance of the license recognizes the clear public need for this energy storage infrastructure and the great support of our partners and stakeholders in the process,” the release said.

Dan Cohan, who lives along the power line path, told Oregon Public Broadcasting reporters that the approval of the project has been expected in the community. Cohan’s primary concern is the effect the power lines will have on migratory birds in the area. The region is a major stop-over for the Pacific Flyway, one of the major migratory bird paths in the country.

“I think there is going to be an impact,” Cohan said. “They’re going to have bird strikes on the infrastructure and the power lines — just because of the sheer density of waterfowl and migratory birds that occur in this area.”

Other concerns include electromagnetic fields near resident homes.

Cohan still hopes, despite Swan Lake being granted a license, the company will do more to protect birds and farm life in the area.

“The development team has worked diligently with stakeholders including landowners, community members, local officials, state and federal agencies to identify the best possible route for the proposed transmission line,” the release said.

“The project will be an important part of turning Oregon’s renewable energy investments into long-term solutions in the fight against climate change.”

Before going into operation, the project will pass rigorous safety reviews and during operations will be a safe and reliable source of renewable energy.

“We’re very excited to share this news with our partners and stakeholders. Moving forward we will be reaching out with updates on the project through a quarterly newsletter.”

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