Goldendale Energy Storage Project

An environmental review is beginning on a proposed hydropower project on the Columbia River, adjacent to the John Day Dam near Goldendale. Free Flow Power Project 101, LLC (FFP Project), is proposing to build a closed-loop water storage system that releases water from an upper reservoir downhill to a lower reservoir to generate energy.

This review is done under SEPA, the State Environmental Policy Act.

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

Determination of Significance and scoping for an EIS

We've reviewed the project information and determined that it is likely to have significant environmental impacts requiring full evaluation in an environmental impact statement (EIS).

The first step toward developing an EIS is called scoping. Tribes, stakeholders, community members and others are invited to weigh in on what should be considered in the scope of a full EIS.

The project includes a new aerial transmission line that connect to the existing Bonneville Power Administration's John Day Substation in Oregon, near the City of Rufus. Click to enlarge.

The EIS will examine possible significant and adverse impacts resulting from the construction and operation of the proposed project. This includes impacts to both the natural environment and nearby communities through studies of air quality, plant and animal habitat, transportation, water and cultural resources. The EIS also will analyze how impacts can be reduced or eliminated through mitigation.

A final EIS is expected to be complete by mid 2022. 

Read frequently asked questions about SEPA to learn more about the environmental review process.

Public comment period and meetings

We're looking for comments on what should be studied in the EIS, project alternatives, and what mitigation should be considered to reduce project impacts. Documents available for review include the SEPA checklist and Determination of Signficance.

Scoping comments will be accepted through Feb. 12, 2021, and may be made online or in writing to:

Sage Park 
Washington Department of Ecology
1250 West Alder Street
Union Gap, WA 98903-0009
Attn: Goldendale Scoping

Two online public meetings are scheduled for Jan. 27 and Feb. 3, to share basic information about the project and to accept comments on the scope of the EIS. Due to Covid-19, we're only offering online meetings. For those with limited or no internet access, there will be an option to join each meeting by phone.

Online meeting information

Meeting date       Time                     Link to meeting     Access code        Call in number       
Jan. 27, 2021 6:00 PM Join the event 177 243 8003 415-655-0001
Feb. 3, 2021 10:00 AM Join the event 141 470 2345 415-655-0001
  • Each meeting will start with a short presentation, followed by a formal hearing to accept public comments on the scope of the EIS.
  • We will present the same information at both meetings.
  • You can register in advance by clicking on "join the event" link or join the meeting the day of the event. Join online or use the phone number to listen in.

For more information or to request an interpreter, please contact Meg Bommarito at 425-649-7128.

Para más información o para solicitar un intérprete, favor de comunicarse con Meg Bommarito al 425-649-7128.

Want to receive project updates?

The hydropower project proposes to use an upper and a lower reservoir to generate energy in a closed loop system above the John Day Dam. Click to enlarge.

Free Flow Power Project 101, LLC (FFP Project), is proposing to build a closed-loop water storage system that releases water from an upper reservoir downhill to a lower reservoir to generate energy. The power produced would feed into the electrical grid at nearby John Day Dam.

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. 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 through the existing infrastructure of the nearby John Day Dam.

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.


Overview of the SEPA Evironmental Impact Statement process

Project Timeline

Date Activity
June 2020

FFP Project 101, LLC submits 401 water quality certification application and draft checklist to Ecology

Sept - Nov 2020

Ecology holds public comment period on the 401 certification application
October 29 - December 28, 2020

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

December 2020 FFP Project 101, LLC submits final signed SEPA checklist
January 14, 2021

Ecology makes a determination of significance and begins a comment period for the scope of the SEPA environmental review (environmental impact statement)



Frequently Asked Questions

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 its document library.

401 Water Quality Certification

We're working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to license hydropower projects. The proponent submitted an application to receive a 401 Water Quality Certification for the project. The comment period on the application ended Nov. 9, 2020. 

If we determine that the project can meet water quality standards, we will issue the certification. Sometimes this is done with conditions to make sure that the standards will be met. These conditions become part of the FERC license.

Cleanup of contamination left behind by former aluminum smelter

The lower reservior of the proposed project would be located on a portion of the former Columbia Gorge Aluminum smelter site that is currently going through the process to clean up contamination left behind by past operations. We're working with liable parties Lockheed Martin and NSC Smelter to investigate the nature and extent of contamination and develop a cleanup plan for the entire site.

FFP Project 101, LLC, is seeking a prospective purchaser consent decree (PPCD) to define the cleanup actions needed for the portion of the site they propose to purchase for the energy project.

We will continue to make sure that activities at the site, whether they are related to cleanup or a future use, meet local, state, and federal requirements to protect the environment.