A federal regulatory commission is giving people with an interest in the proposed Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project  in Western Navajo Nation about a month to submit comments about a pending preliminary permit.

In this aerial view the Little Colorado flows near the area known as Big Canyon, east of the Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo courtesy of EcoFlight.)

Debbie-Anne A. Reese, FERC’s acting secretary, issued two paragraphs Monday (Feb. 20) about a recent decision related to pumped hydro storage in the Black Mesa area. The commission adopted a new policy and denied a preliminary permit request last week to Nature & People First Ariz,PHS, LLC.

The commission’s new policy states, “it will not issue preliminary permits for projects proposing to use Tribal lands if the Tribe on whose lands the project is to be located opposes the permit.”

The new policy puzzled members of Save the Confluence members because Big Canyon is in their back yard. The activist group is puzzled.

“Why identify two projects only? asked Rita Bilagody, STC member. ““Why was the Big Canyon not mentioned and only Black Mesa project was highlighted?” Bilagody asked. “The Feds were very clear in their decision: Without the permission from governments and People, no permits will be issued. How can Big Canyon be excluded?”

Just days ago, the FERC denied other hyrdo projects on Navajo land. See story from Inside Climate News.

Steve Irwin, owner of Pumped Hydro Storage LLC filed an application for a feasibility study at Big Canyon in 2020.  Irwin said he has waited for the preliminary permit for nearly a year and has not heard from FERC.

“We’ll see what FERC does next,” Irwin said.

The Navajo Nation filed an injunction against him and prevented him from moving forward with the project at Big Canyon, he said.

How to comment

The comment period for Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project No. 15024, is open everyone.

For help with the commenting process, here are some resources.

1. Submitting Effective Comments | Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (ferc.gov)

2. The highlighted link is an important note that is at the bottom of the page in the link above for those who file by mail:

  • The Commission expects parties to file a comment in a timely manner based on the reasonably foreseeable issues arising from the applicant’s filing and the Commission’s notice of filing.
  • It is strongly encouraged to electronically submit comments through the eFile link on the Commission’s website. If you cannot file online, you may Mail or Hand Deliver a comment (see below for contact and address information).
  • If you choose to mail a comment to a proceeding you must send an original and three copies of the comment by overnight services to:

3. Attention:
Debbie-Anne A. Reese, Acting Secretary

USPS Mailing Address:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20426

4.  Hand/Other Delivery Method:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
12225 Wilkins Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20852.

Receipt of mail sent via the US Postal Service may be subject to irradiation and significant delays.