pumped storage diagram best1By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer

White Pine County could be the home for a new water pumping underground turbine, according to a report by Gridflex Energy. The project will begin doing early engineering, geotechnical, environmental and market studies in 2014, with construction planned for 2017.

The turbine would be located just outside of Ely by Gonder substation and operate entirely on Bureau of Land Management land. Water from an upper basin would be pumped down to a new artificial basin below passing through the turbine to generate energy.

The water could be pumped back and forth, at ”peak” hours, according to the report by Gridflex.

The company’s website says the pump storage facility proposed in White Pine County offers benefits over more traditional energy generators.

“In sum, pumped storage facilities should be viewed as firm generating assets with the capability to provide the full range of ancillary services more quickly than gas peakers and more cost-effectively than other storage approaches.”

The energy produced could be transported and sold to Southern Nevada as well as surrounding states.

Gridflex approached Ely City Councilman Sam Hanson with the proposal, and he says he could see it being a real benefit to the community.

“We are talking about a massive construction project that could bring lots of jobs to Ely, as well as add maybe 50 or so long term positions to maintain it,” Hanson said of the eventual staff it would require to run the equipment.

Gridflex has already acquired the necessary permits for the land, though issues of water rights still need to be finalized. Studies will continue through 2015 before Gridflex can get the final license application from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The project is one of several the company is currently in development on, including others in Clark County and Mineral County.