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Map showing location of pumped storage project proposed in Chanceford Township by York Energy Storage, LLC. The Lancaster Conservancy uses this illustration in which the proposed project is superimposed over a Google map which shows the boundaries (in white) of the 49 property holders potentially affected. The dark red plots are those where the present property holders have conservation and/or agricultural easements.

Comment on Pumped Storage proposed in Chanceford Township

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is taking comments concerning the York Energy Storage Waterpower Project proposed by York Energy Storage, LLC, on a site in Chanceford Township, York County, Pennsylvania. I submitted comments focusing on the fact the York Energy Storage Waterpower Project wastes energy in an area already generating abundant green energy 24/7.

If you have not seen the weekly public notices placed in local newspapers by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, indicating how to file comments, a copy is provided at the end of this post. The comment period began February 1, 2024 and ends March 31, 2024. Be sure to include Docket number P-15332-000 on the first page of your comments.

Comments submitted by Stephen H. Smith P.E. on Docket number P-15332-000 follow:

My comments concern the York Energy Storage Waterpower Project proposed by York Energy Storage, LLC, on a site in Chanceford Township, York County, Pennsylvania. I’ll focus on the fact that the York Energy Storage Waterpower Project wastes energy in an area already generating abundant green energy 24/7. The use of eminent domain to take land from 49 property holders for a system that wastes energy is wrong!

York Energy Storage LLC says the system would annually provide an additional 1.5 million megawatt hours to the grid that services millions of people. Fact check: that is a false statement. The pump/motors to raise water from Lake Clarke to the elevation of the proposed reservoir, plus turbine/generator inefficiencies, would consume 1.9 million megawatt hours annually from the grid, in order to provide the 1.5 million megawatt hours annually back onto the grid via turbine/generators as the water flows down from the proposed reservoir to Lake Clarke. Consuming a greater amount of energy to produce a smaller amount of energy has the annual net effect of taking 400,000 megawatt hours of energy FROM THE GRID, not adding to it.

Such a wasteful energy storage system might be tolerated in areas where massive amounts of solar or wind energy are produced; since these sources do not produce energy 24/7. The site of the proposed York Energy Storage Waterpower Project is not such an area. Presently 30 million megawatt hours of 24/7 green energy is capable of being generated annually within 15 miles of the proposed energy storage system. These include two hydroelectric generating stations at dams anchored on the York County side of the Susquehanna River: Safe Harbor at about 3.7 million megawatt hours annually, and Holtwood at about 2.0 million megawatt hours annually. And only 15-miles distant is the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station along the York County side of the Susquehanna River that is capable of generating 24.3 million megawatt hours annually.

I used 79% round-trip efficiency to determine the 1.9 million megawatt hours taken annually from the grid, as noted in the second paragraph. This efficiency is the actual performance of existing pumped-storage facilities in the United States: “According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2019, the U.S. utility-scale battery fleet operated with an average monthly round-trip efficiency of 82%, and pumped-storage facilities operated with an average monthly round-trip efficiency of 79%. EIA’s Power Plant Operations Report provides data on utility-scale energy storage, including the monthly electricity consumption and gross electric generation of energy storage assets, which can be used to calculate round-trip efficiency. The metrics reviewed here use the finalized data from the Power Plant Operations Report for 2019—the most recent year for which a full set of storage data is available.” Source: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=46756

Concluding from that same source: “The role of batteries and their capability to provide high levels of round-trip efficiency may become more important as batteries continue to be deployed and as the intermittent renewables share of the electricity mix grows.” Batteries are already more efficient than pump storage facilities. With battery efficiency improvement development on the fast track due to their use in electric vehicles, that advantage is sure to increase. It would be a disgrace if the York Energy Storage Waterpower Project were constructed, only to be abandoned in the favor of much more efficient utility-scale battery storage.

I live in York County 13-miles from the proposed energy storage system, so I am not directly impacted, however since my parents and grandparents had their homes and property taken by eminent domain, I empathize with the 49 property owners that would be affected. A number of the properties have conservation and agricultural easements on them. I wonder how many of the people making a decision on this proposal ever had to deal with the despair of their homes and property being taken by eminent domain. In this case the use of eminent domain is especially wrong for a York Energy Storage Waterpower Project that wastes energy in an area already generating abundant green energy 24/7.

Thanks for taking the time to consider my comments.

Stephen H. Smith, P.E.

Weekly Public Notices placed in local newspapers by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission indicating how to file comments concerning the York Energy Storage Waterpower Project proposed by York Energy Storage, LLC, on a site in Chanceford Township, York County, Pennsylvania. Comment period began February 1, 2024 and ends March 31, 2024. (York Daily Record, March 12, 2024, page 5B)

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