The Promise of Pumped Storage Hydropower

By Kris Polly

Pumped storage is an efficient, established, long-duration energy storage method that will become an increasingly crucial part of the grid in coming years as more and more variable renewable generation comes online. This issue’s focus on these facilities begins with a cover interview with Matthew Shapiro, the CEO of development firm rPlus Hydro, which is currently working on 10 different pumped storage projects, about the challenges of siting and permitting these facilities and lays out the benefits they offer the grid. 

We also speak with Dr. Alexander Jung, the head of Digital Hydro Solutions at Voith Hydro, about the data collection and analysis services his division provides for pumped storage facilities and other hydro plants as well as the research that is being carried out through the European Commission–funded XFLEX HYDRO program. 

Next, Peggy Beltrone of Cat Creek Energy and Water updates us on the organization’s efforts to develop a major pumped storage facility in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. 

Alex Campbell of the International Hydropower Association tells us about the International Forum on Pumped Storage, a roughly 80‑member multistakeholder platform that led a 1‑year series of discussions aimed at identifying obstacles to pumped storage development and providing policy recommendations to resolve them. 

Given their location, ice is a major problem in winter for the New York Power Authority’s 16 generation facilities. Jairo Florez tells us about how a new ice and debris boom manufactured by Worthington is improving the operations of the Vischer Ferry facility. 

We also bring you the first installment in our Half- Century Leaders series. John Eastwood’s career, which stretched from 1962 to 2017, covered hydro projects large and small; distributed pumped storage projects; solar, wind, and flywheel development; and much more. 

Finally, Chuck Sensiba and Elizabeth McCormick of law firm Troutman Pepper update us on recent legislation that stands to affect pumped storage. 

Pumped storage will only become more critical as years pass. I hope this issue provides you with an idea of the excellent work that is already being done in this field. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at