FERC on Sept. 19 rejected requests to stay and rehear its decision giving more time to the 1.3 GW Eagle Mountain pumped storage hydro project planned for Riverside County, Calif., near Joshua Tree National Park.

The agency on May 7 approved the two-year extension of a start-construction date to June 19, 2020, and a project completion date to June 19, 2023, for the project [P-13123] (WPW No. 16 [16]).

An earlier two-year extension granted to developer Eagle Crest in 2016 was set to expire June 19, 2018, and under previous provisions of the Federal Power Act, no further extensions were allowed.

However, FERC's May 7 ruling said that since it had not issued a termination notice when new federal legislation passed providing deadline increases of up to eight years, it granted Eagle Crest's request for an additional two years, based in part on its continued "diligent pursuit" of a license for the project.

The National Parks Conservation Association had protested that the new extension was improper retroactive regulation, but FERC said the FPA provided it with "the discretion" to grant the additional time.

Also, the Desert Protection Society said FERC should terminate the license because the original deadline had not been met. The agency denied the request, and noted that in any event the group's status as a party in the original license proceeding did not extend to the post-licensing proceeding on construction extensions, and ruled they had no standing to file in it.

The project is on the site of the inactive Eagle Mountain iron ore mine, and would be a closed-loop, pumped storage facility with water for the initial reservoir fill and replenishment coming from groundwater wells. It sits on private and federal land under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management.

The approved license is for an upper reservoir and water-conveyance system; generating and pumping facilities; a lower reservoir and conveyance system; transmission facilities; a water supply and treatment system; and other facilities.

NextEra Energy acquired the Eagle Mountain project in 2018, according to a statement of information filed with the California Secretary of State that lists two officers of NextEra as CEO and CFO of Eagle Crest Energy (WPW No. 12 [12]).