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Feds give pumped storage energy project thumbs up

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Environmental assessment issued as project moves forward


A central Montana renewable energy project, one based on hydro-energy storage and generation, achieved a major milestone last month.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October issued Absaroka Energy LLC’s Gordon Butte pumped storage hydro plan a positive environmental assessment paving the way for the project to move forward with license issuance, according to a Nov. 17 Absaroka Energy press release.

Pumped storage projects store and generate energy by moving water between two reservoirs at different elevations. Absaroka Energy’s $900 million Gordon Butte plan addresses one of the most difficult challenges facing the nation’s electrical grid: creating the ability to respond instantaneously to variations in demand and generation as more renewable energy generation becomes a part of the country’s energy future.

“We are pleased that after a thorough review, FERC has determined that the construction and operation of the facility will result in minimal environmental impact—an outcome which is consistent with our mission,” said Carl Borgquist, president of Absaroka Energy.

“The environmental review of a project is always an important part of the development process,” Borgquist said. “With the issuance of the EA, we look forward to FERC finishing our license order and giving us the green light to build and operate the facility.” _

Throughout the licensing process Absaroka Energy worked closely with local, state and federal regulatory agencies, landowners and other key stakeholders.

“We were able to address concerns and define mitigation strategies collaboratively,” Borgquist said. “This approach paid off with a quick response and positive report from federal regulators.”

Founded in 2008, Absaroka Energy LLC is a renewable energy company focused on providing an integrated renewable energy solution in North America offering international expertise in wind, solar and smart grid technologies.

The Gordon Butte pumped storage hydro project is a 400-megawatt facility sited in Meagher County east of Helena and is less than five miles from the Colstrip twin 500-kilovolt transmission lines, the backbone of the northwest grid. This interconnection location will give the facility access to markets across the northern Great Plains and Pacific Northwest.

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