Goldendale Energy Storage Project

Free Flow Power Project 101, LLC (FFP Project) proposes to build an off-channel water storage system adjacent to the Columbia River in Goldendale. The system would release water from an upper reservoir downhill to a lower reservoir to generate energy. Power produced would be provided to the electrical grid at the nearby John Day Substation in Oregon when other renewable sources, like wind and solar, are unavailable.

The public comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Goldendale Energy Storage project ended Aug. 9 and we are reviewing the comments received.

John Day Dam and the Columbia River on a sunny day looking down from the proposed location of the upper reservior.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

What's happening now?

Project site map. Click to enlarge.

The public comment period on the draft EIS ended Aug. 9, 2022. We are reviewing all comments recieved and expect to finalize the EIS at the end of this year.

The draft EIS examines significant and adverse environmental impacts resulting from the construction and operation of the Goldendale Energy Storage Project, and identifies whether and how those impacts may be reduced or eliminated.

Visit our online open house for a summary of the findings.

Significant findings

The draft EIS studies local impacts to air quality, plants and animals and their habitat, transportation, water resources, and water quality. The analysis also recognizes the significant impacts to indigenous rights, cultures, traditions, and heritage at the proposed project site.

Terrestrial species & habitat impacts

The draft report identifies impacts and mitigation measures to reduce significant impacts to plants, habitat, and wildlife. Other sections in the EIS describe lesser impacts that do not require mitigation.

Impacts to plants and animals include:

  • Disturbance of plants and animals during 5-year construction period
  • Permanent loss of 193.6 acres of existing habitat and temporary disturbance of 54 acres
  • Impacts to special status species including golden eagle, little brown bat, and smooth desert parsley and other rare plants

Mitigation

The company developed a Vegetation Management Plan and a Wildlife Management Plan that contain mitigation measures to reduce these impacts. Mitigation includes purchase of additional property to be used as wildlife habitat, animal surveys before and after construction, and timing construction around eagle nesting season.

Tribal cultural & natural resource impacts

Section 4.9 of the draft EIS examines impacts to cultural sites and treaty-reserved tribal resources. The analysis considered impacts to the Yakama Nation, Warm Springs, Nez Perce, and Umatilla Tribes.

Impacts to tribal cultural and natural resources include:

  • Disturbance or destruction of several archaeological sites and sacred cultural areas
  • Degradation of the visual quality of the landscape, impacting cultural and spiritual practices and places
  • Disturbance of plants and animals that have cultural significance to the Tribes
  • Loss of medicinal and traditional plants and foods

Mitigation

To date, no mitigation has been identified that would reduce the significant impacts to Tribes.

June 23, 2022, hearing. Read the presentation as an accessible PDF.

Public hearings

Public hearings to accept oral comments were held:

Next steps

We are considering comments as we finalize the EIS, expected at the end of 2022. The EIS helps inform state and local permitting decisions. It is not a decision document, and does not determine whether a project moves forward.

Read this graphic as an accessible PDF.

Want to receive project updates?

Two reservoirs sited next to the John Day Dam would generate electricity if a project near Goldendale is approved. Illustration from FFP Project. Click to enlarge.

Free Flow Power Project 101, LLC (FFP Project) proposes to build a water storage system that releases water from an upper reservoir downhill to a lower reservoir to generate energy. The power produced would be provided to the electrical grid at the nearby John Day Substation, in Oregon, when other renewable sources, like wind and solar, are unavailable.

The lower reservoir would be located on a portion of the former Columbia Gorge Aluminum smelter site, and water for the project would be drawn from the Columbia River under a permit that once served the aluminum plant. The FFP Project plans to purchase water from the Klickitat Public Utility District. Project plans call for the lower reservoir to be filled once, with annual supplemental fills.

The project is expected to generate up to 1,200 megawatts of electricity. It would send electricity to the grid at the nearby John Day Substation in Oregon.

The project includes:

  • Two reservoirs
  • A 2,400 feet gross elevation gain and involves no river or stream impoundments, allowing for water conveyances
  • An underground water conveyance tunnel and powerhouse
  • 115 and 500 kilovolt transmission lines
  • An electrical substation/switchyard and other related facilities

Diagram showing how energy will be produced using two reservoirs at different elevations.

Project timeline

Date Activity
June 2020

FFP Project submits 401 water quality certification application and draft checklist to Ecology

Sept. - Nov. 2020

Ecology holds public comment period on the 401 certification application
Oct. 29 - Dec. 28, 2020

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission holds a comment period on the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) federal environmental review

Dec. 2020 FFP Project submits final signed SEPA checklist
Jan. 14 - Feb. 12, 2021

Ecology holds comment period on the scope of the SEPA environmental review (EIS)

June 2021 Ecology denies 'without prejudice' the 401 Water Quality Certification, due to insufficient information.
May 23, 2022 FFP Project submits second 401 water quality certification application.
June 6 - Aug. 9, 2022 Ecology holds comment period on the draft EIS.

 

 

More project information

Federal environmental review process

This project is also being reviewed for environmental impacts through the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. To review the federal environmental review documents, visit the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's document library.

401 Water Quality Certification

As part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process to license hydropower projects, the state has to issue a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification that the project aligns with state water quality standards. We are currently reviewing an application for Section 401 Certification, submitted on May 23, 2022, by Rye Development on behalf of FFP Project.

Cleanup of contamination left behind by former aluminum smelter

The lower reservoir of the proposed project would be located on a portion of the former Columbia Gorge Aluminum smelter site called the West Surface Impoundment. We are working with FFP Project to study and develop a cleanup plan to address contamination left behind by past smelter operations in this area.

Read our May 2022 blog for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions