A bill entitled the Bureau of Reclamation Pumped Storage Hydropower Development Act was heard by a US legislative sub-committee last week. If approved this bill could stimulate non-federal development of pumped storage hydropower using reservoirs under the control of the Bureau of Reclamation in the 17 western states.
This bill would amend the 1939 Reclamation Project Act to remove ambiguity by making it clear that pumped hydro using multiple reservoirs is encouraged. This would empower state, local and regional leaders to develop pumped hydro projects using reservoirs under federal control.
The US Bureau of Reclamation was established in 1902 and is best known for the dams, powerplants, and canals it constructed in the 17 western states. These water projects led to homesteading and promoted the economic development of the West. Reclamation has constructed more than 600 dams and reservoirs including Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and Grand Coulee on the Columbia River.
Reclamation is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States. Their 53 powerplants annually provide more than 40,000 gigawatt hours of electricity. This is almost enough to power the entire state of Queensland which has an annual demand of around 50,000 gigawatthrs.