FERC Issues Premium Energy A Preliminary Permit for Haiwee Pumped Storage Project

In the time of COVID-19, there are still development threats on public lands trying to inch forward. On March 19th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued LA-based company, Premium Energy a 2-year preliminary permit for a pumped storage project in the Haiwee area. 

The preliminary permit gives Premium Energy priority placement in any future Haiwee Pumped storage project proposals for the duration of the permit. This allows Premium Energy to invest time and resources into feasibility studies and consultation with interested parties without the concern of another company “stealing” the project. If this is your first time learning about the Haiwee pumped storage project, read our webpage about the project.

In Premium Energy’s preliminary permit application, they proposed three upper reservoir locations: Little Cactus Flat, McCloud Flat, and Haiwee Pass. In the issuance of the permit, the Haiwee Pass location was denied due to its location in recommended wilderness under the new Inyo National Forest Management Plan. However, McCloud Flat and Little Cactus Flat were both approved. These two sites are on BLM land and Premium Energy will have to go through all the appropriate BLM processes before doing any ground-disturbing activities.

Through the 2-year duration of the preliminary permit, the people and organizations of the Eastern Sierra can expect two things:

  1. Consultation outreach from Premium Energy
  2. A Premium Energy proposal to BLM for ground studies

When the time comes, this gives us all an opportunity to get involved and make our voices heard. Whether the actions on BLM land merit an Environmental Assessment, an Environmental Impact Statement or qualifies for a Categorical Exemption, Friends of the Inyo will be there every step of the way to stand up for the land. We hope you will join us. We will send out all of the necessary information via an Action Alert when the time comes. 

We are in the early stages of a project development process that could span a decade or longer. After Premium Energy completes their informal consultation and feasibility studies, and if they are still interested in the project, they will submit a Pre-Application Document (PAD) to FERC. This signifies the start of the FERC Integrated Licensing Process where FERC will conduct NEPA processes and formal consultation. The Haiwee project is Premium Energy’s fourth active pumped storage proposal in the country right now. They have two active proposals in Nevada and one in Utah. If anyone of these projects come to fruition, they would be the largest pumped storage project in the world per megawatt output. Premium Energy will undoubtedly have their hands full in the near future.

To all our Friends of the Inyo members and environmental advocates out there, thank you for your passion and enthusiasm for the Eastern Sierra!