Stop the White Pine Pumped Storage Project

Dark skies, wildlife, water, recreation and Ely’s scenic backdrop are all threatened by an extreme proposal from a Salt Lake City real estate developer, rPlus Hydro, that would be located in the Duck Creek Range between Ely and High Schells Wilderness. The White Pine Pumped Storage Project is a proposed energy-storage project that 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 - and includes two massive paved roads through the scenic limestone cliffs to the top of the Duck Creek Range, cutting through critical big game and sage-grouse habitat.

Sign the petition to speak up for wildlands and dark skies in White Pine County today.

This project would forever alter the viewshed for Ely residents and forever sever seasonal movement corridors essential for elk, mule deer and other wildlife species.

The project will require multiple shafts to be drilled through the range, resulting in one million cubic feet of waste rock to be dumped on the beautiful slopes that are the scenic vistas for the Nevada Northern Railroad tourist trains including the popular dark sky train. However, there won’t be dark skies there anymore if the pumped storage project is built. The project’s proponent, a company called rPlus Hydro, is a subsidiary of a Salt Lake City-based real-estate development company that plans to construct this project, then flip the project to NV Energy. No new energy will be generated from this project and because it would tap into grid-energy to pump water uphill, it will use more energy that it produces. This project is a means for revenue for rPlus Hydro and construction of this project would drain the water supplies of White Pine County and poses a severe threat to outdoor tourism, outdoor recreation, dark sky tourism, and sensitive wildlife and critical wildlife habitat.

Sign the petition to speak up for wildlands and dark skies in White Pine County today.

Critical Threats to Wildlife:

As many as nine greater sage grouse leks (breeding sites) exist within and directly adjacent to the rPlus project site in the Duck Creek range and subsequently proposed 25+ miles of transmission line that would course westward from the Duck Creek Range project site, across Steptoe Valley to the Robinson Summit substation. In the rPlus Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), they cited the concern over disrupting sage grouse with construction, operation and annual maintenance of the pumped storage project, but dismissed this concern by stating that after they are finished with the project in thirty or more years, they would rehabilitate sage grouse habitat back to what it was before the installation and operation of the project. However, sage grouse are a very sensitive species that over deep time come to establish and seasonally revisit leks and nesting sites. Once these sites are disturbed, and especially, once grouse are unable to revisit such sites, they never again return. Also, once a lek is destroyed, many times, grouse fail to find other active leks and are thus omitted from the breeding population further threatening an already declining species that are facing extinction. Additionally, within the rPlus project boundary exists critical winter and summer habitat for elk and mule deer, and within Steptoe Valley, critical winter habitat for these ungulates is shared by pronghorn antelope, all of which rely on these areas for survival.

Threats to Outdoor Recreation:

Within the area rPlus proposes placing the White Pine Pumped Storage Project lies in dark skies relied upon by the county for tourism. Visitors from both within and beyond the nation travel to White Pine County to the foot of the Duck Creek Range to ride the Nevada Northern Railroad’s Star Train. These dark skies would vanish with industrial lighting and operations associated with this project. The very vitality of the Nevada Northern Railroad, enjoyed by thousands of annual visitors for over 35 years will forever be changed. Outdoor recreation such as hunting, would be threatened by loss of public access. For all who enjoy and rely on White Pine County outdoor recreation of all types, the scenic viewshed is more than simply an aesthetic add-on. Rather, it is essential for those who live, recreate and visit the county whose viewshed is very important. This project will alter this experience with the massive, two-lane paved road zigzagging up the scenic limestone cliffs on the west face of the Duck Creek Range.This is not the legacy any development should leave behind for your children that ultimately places your outdoor recreation and heritage in the balance forever.

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