Goldendale Energy Storage Project

We're conducting an environmental review of a proposed hydropower project on the Columbia River near Goldendale. Free Flow Power Project 101, LLC is proposing 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 feed into the electrical grid at nearby John Day Dam.

A final environmental impact statement is expected to be available for public review and comments by mid-2022.

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

Environmental Impact Statement underway

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

The EIS examines 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. It will also look at how impacts can be reduced or eliminated through mitigation.

Our first step was to invite tribes, stakeholders, community members, and others to weigh in on what should be considered in the scope of the EIS. The comment period on the scope of the project ended Feb. 12, 2021. We're now moving forward with drafting the EIS and will use the comments made during scoping to inform what should be considered.

Scoping complete

We held online public meetings on Jan. 27, 2021 and Feb. 3, 2021 to share basic information about the project and to accept comments on the scope of the EIS. All comments submitted during the comment period were reviewed and summarized in a comment summary report published in July 2021.

The public will have another opportunity to weigh in when a draft EIS is issued early in 2022.

Project site map. Click to enlarge.

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. 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 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
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 101, LLC submits final signed SEPA checklist
Jan. 14, 2021

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

Feb. 12, 2021 Comment period on scoping ends
June 2021 Ecology denies 'without prejudice' the 401 Water Quality Certification, due to insufficient information.



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 work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to license hydropower projects. Rye Development on behalf of FFP Project 101, LLC submitted an application for a 401 Water Quality Certification for the project. The public comment period on the application ended Nov. 9, 2020.

The purpose of a 401 Water Quality Certification is to determine if a project can meet state water quality standards. 

After a thorough review, we have determined that the information submitted is insufficient to approve the application for Water Quality Certification for the project.

Ecology’s decision is technically referred to as a denial without prejudice. In denying this request without prejudice, we recognize the application was made early in the project’s timeline and lacks relevant information necessary for the agency to approve. Our decision does not prevent Rye Development from continuing to pursue the project. The company can submit a new request when sufficient information is available.

We had one year to make a decision on this 401 certification application. As part of the application process, we requested additional information specifically about protecting ground and surface water. We did not receive enough information within the one-year timeframe to support issuing the certification.

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 to study and develop a cleanup plan to address contamination left behind by past smelter operations in this area.

Read our blog for more information.

On Nov. 24, 2021, we received a draft Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) and a draft Cleanup Action Plan (CAP) for this proposal. We are reviewing the draft documents and have begun negotiating a Prospecive Purchaser Consent Decree (PPCD). We will make the draft RI/FS, CAP, and proposed PPCD available for public review and comment before making a final decision.

We will continue to make sure all of the activities at the site, for both cleanup and proposed future use, meet local, state, and federal requirements to protect the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions