The first of three potentially large industrial projects for the Klamath Basin just won approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; that is the Swan Lake pumped storage hydro project.
Rye Development, based in Boston, Mass., which develops and manages hydroelectric power projects across the U.S. won a 50-year construction and operational license from FERC for the Swan Lake Energy Storage Project Tuesday.
The $750 million project may mean up to 3,000 temporary construction jobs when the project begins to turn dirt in 2021. Afterward, there will be about 12 workers to run the facility full time.
The site is 11 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. Renewable electricity stored at the facility would be transmitted from the powerhouse along a 32.8-mile-long, 230-kilovolt (kV), above-ground transmission line to interconnect with the Malin substation.
Rye has a similar project at Goldendale, Wash., across from the Columbia River. That will have a capacity of 1,200 megawatts in generating mode and will be located approximately 20 miles south of Goldendale.
It’s another feather in the cap of the Klamath County Economic Development Association. (You’ll recall that KCEDA recently has been successful in bringing a Fairfield Inn to K Falls as well as launching an Oktoberfest event this September).
KCEDA has been working closely with Rye to move the project forward. The next steps will be for Rye to meet with affected landowners and ranchers where the powerline will be strung or within their viewshed. Most of it will cross BLM land, but the visibility of it and proximity to homes is a concern. Then the project will go out for bid. It is hoped it will be in operation by 2025.
The other two pending projects are the Jordan Cove Pipeline from Malin to Coos Bay and the removal of four hydro-electric dams on the Klamath River. Both are in the multi-millions of dollars and will bring in more property tax (as well as other) revenue to the county.
If they succeed in winning approval, Klamath Falls’ future looks bright on the employment front. But we’re far behind in building adequate housing and rentals for those potential workers.
This may sound like a broken record, but now is the time is now to get that process moving forward.