Ashokan Update 3.30.21

From: Kathy Nolan, Mountainkeeper's Senior Research Director
Re: An update on a proposal for an unnecessary and ill-conceived major hydroelectric dam that would threaten our pristine Ashokan Reservoir and surrounding communities

On February 18th, a notice in the Federal Register alerted communities in the Catskills near the Ashokan Reservoir to a preliminary application filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by Premium Energy Holdings of Southern California for a large and poorly thought through “pumped storage” project. It would draw from the existing Ashokan Reservoir, plus a newly created dam and reservoir at one of three alternative sites near the Ashokan, for generating hydroelectric power. If you're looking for a deep dive on the proposal, check out this presentation by journalist Ginger Strand.

A lot has happened in the few weeks since then…


New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection and New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, along with the following municipalities, have filed or are reported to be filing comments, along with motions for formal status as Intervenors (what this means is described below):

Map of proposed dam and resulting flooding from proposed power plant

  • Town of Olive
  • Town of Shandaken
  • Town of Woodstock
  • Town of Hunter
  • Greene County
  • Ulster County
  • Coalition of Watershed Towns
  • Mountaintop Supervisors & Mayors Coalition (Supporting the Town of Hunter's opposition)

In addition to Mountainkeeper, a broad range of local nonprofit groups opposing the project are formally commenting and seeking status as Intervenors:

  • Adirondack Mountain Club
  • Ashokan Center
  • Ashokan-Pepacton Chapter, Trout Unlimited
  • Catskill 3500 Club
  • Catskill Mountain Club
  • Catskill Mountain Chapter, Trout Unlimited
  • NYNJ Trail Conference
  • Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway
  • Riverkeeper
  • NYS Council, Trout Unlimited
  • The Catskill Center
  • Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter
  • Woodstock Land Conservancy

There are also at least two community groups (at two of the alternative sites) that are organizing opposition: the Woodland Valley Association and the newly formed Save West Shokan. Catskill Mountainkeeper is joining with these groups to offer our support and help organize opposition locally.

Third map of proposed dam and resulting flooding from proposed power plantMany individual volunteers are also stepping forward to lend their expertise to the fight, including Elizabeth Cruz, who used her cartography skills to create three very helpful maps (which we've included in this email) of the alternative sites for dams and reservoirs in the Ashokan Pumped Storage proposal. Click on the maps to enlarge them in a new window.

According to Elizabeth, “The reservoir locations shown on the maps are based on the dam crest and water surface elevations provided in the proposal... In the case of Wittenberg and Woodland reservoirs, these maps match the maps in the proposal. Using the elevations given in the proposal, the Stony Clove map is quite different from the Premium Energy Holdings' depiction. The reason for the discrepancy is unknown.”

What does it mean to intervene and who can do it? Among the ways that a person, organization, agency, or municipality can participate in reviewing – and objecting to – a proposal submitted to FERC, seeking status as an intervenor preserves the most rights, including the right to participate in legal actions brought in regard to a proposal (see The process involves discerning whether and how one might be harmed by a proposed project and then submitting a short “Motion to Intervene” to FERC. Individuals could be harmed, for example, if they own property that might be flooded by the proposed dams and reservoirs or if they recreate on lands that would be adversely affected by the construction or operation of the project. FERC encourages online submissions, which are much simpler and faster ( Please check out Mountainkeeper's motion to intervene if you're looking for a sample, and contact us if you would like to participate and need assistance. The deadline to intervene is April 12th, 2021.

We'll keep you updated as we continue to coordinate and fight this proposal.

Remaining vigilant,

Kathy Nolan, Senior Research Director

Upcoming Events

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Like us on facebook and be a part of our movement!