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Step Up for Steptoe: SLC Developers to Hold Meetings in White Pine County on Proposed Pumped Storage Project

Things are heating up with the White Pine County Pumped Storage Project that we’ve been working to oppose, and we need your support. In the coming weeks and months, we’re expecting a lot of movement on this project and we need to get as much support as possible to oppose this dangerous and unstudied “greed energy” push by SLC-based developers.

The project’s proponent, rPlus, will be hosting a series of meetings in White Pine County – one in McGill on Monday, March 18th at 6pm at the Elementary School and another in Ely on Tuesday, March 19th at 6 pm at the Elk’s Lodge.

We’ll be there to set the record straight and raise our concerns, and we invite the community to join us. Read more about the project below, sign and share the petition, and check out the toolkit we’ve created to help you contact the White Pine County Commission and the Governor’s Office of Energy to express your opposition.

About the Project

The White Pine Pumped Storage Project is a proposed energy-storage project that would drain the water supplies of White Pine County, posing threats to local agriculture, tourism, recreation, wildlife, and the municipal water supply.

The project aims to provide battery-like energy storage through a closed loop system of reservoirs – one atop the Duck Creek Range and another in the foothills of Steptoe Valley. No new energy will be generated from this project and because it would tap into grid-energy to pump water uphill, it’s actually a net-negative energy source. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) identified more than 115 deficiencies and troubling information gaps with the company’s final application, citing serious concerns about impacts to ecosystems, local communities and existing businesses.

Who is rPlus and White Pine Water Power?
rPlus, the project’s proponent, is a subsidiary of a Salt Lake City-based real-estate development company. They are looking to flip this project to NV Energy for a profit at the expense of White Pine County resources, ratepayers and taxpayers.

Who is at Risk?
The City of Ely, The City of McGill, The Ruth-McGill GID, Nevada Northern Railway, farmers, and domestic well owners.

How Much Water Exists in Steptoe Valley?
There is simply not enough water available to support this project. There is twice as much water on paper than actually exists as wet water. The current estimate for the perennial yield in Steptoe Valley is 57 years old.

USGS modeling shows that:

  • Pumping will contribute to a steady decline in the aquifer.
  • Pumping from the project will conflict with existing rights holders. 
  • rPlus will drop the water table 100 feet in some areas near the proposed pumping. 

How Can You Help?

Our community cannot afford another project that will dry up our local resources to line the pockets of out-of-state developers. Protect life in Steptoe Valley for present and future generations and keep groundwater where it belongs by signing and sharing the our petition.

Tell the White Pine County Commission and the Governor’s Office of Energy to express your opposition to the project. We’ve created a toolkit here with talking points and contact information.

We’ll be back in the coming weeks with more updates on this project  — in the meantime, please help us spread the word. Together we can keep water in the ground and our communities intact. 

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