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News Coverage

  • Pittsburgh’s new construction adds hydropower, Strip District housing and a Pitt rec center

    You don’t have to build the Hoover Dam to get power from water.

    Instead of building giant dams, Rye Development and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will take advantage of some that already exist: the Montgomery Lock and Dam (Beaver County), Emsworth Lock and Dam (near Neville Island) and Allegheny River Lock and Dam #2 (near the Highland Park Bridge). These three projects have moved into the final engineering, procurement and design stages.

    The projects, which will break ground next year, will cost $250-$300 million and create 150 to 200 construction jobs. The concrete structures and hydroelectric turbines will mostly be underwater and not visible.

    The University of Pittsburgh has reached a long-term agreement to buy power from the dams, as has Allegheny County.

    - Read more

  • Rye Development advancing three hydropower projects in Pittsburgh Region

    “We are excited to announce that we are advancing final engineering, procurement, and design of our first bundle of projects in Pittsburgh,” said Paul Jacob, Chief Executive Officer of Rye Development. “We’ve released additional engineering work orders for the Montgomery, Allegheny, and Emsworth projects and have secured agreements with equipment supplies across the board.”

    Marking an important step in the construction timeline of the Montgomery Project, Rye has submitted the 30% design package to USACE. The design package is significant as it is the first submission of detailed engineering based on the early design concepts for the Montgomery project and is the culmination of nearly a decade of work by Rye in the Pittsburgh Region.

    “We are honored to work in close collaboration with the Army Corps on these exciting flagship projects for Rye,” said Jacob. “The excellent working relationship we have developed with the Corps allows for the continued progress of not only the Montgomery project, but Emsworth and Allegheny #2, and is vital in establishing the processes and procedures we will need as we look forward to constructing additional projects in the region.”

    - Read more

  • Big hydropower projects in Pittsburgh region take step forward

    Three large-scale hydropower projects are moving closer to becoming reality, with the developer's announcement Tuesday that they are further into final engineering, procurement and design.

    Rye Development, a nationally known developer of renewable and particularly hydropower projects, gave an update on the hydroelectric power projects that will be built next to three existing dams in the Pittsburgh region: Montgomery Lock & Dam on the Ohio River in Beaver County, Emsworth Lock & Dam on the Ohio River at Neville Island and Allegheny Lock and Dam #2 adjacent to the Highland Park Bridge on the Allegheny River.

    The renewable, clean energy hydroelectric power that will be generated when the three projects are built are substantial: The University of Pittsburgh reached a long-term power purchase agreement with Rye for the 20 megawatts that will be generated at the Allegheny Lock and Dam; Allegheny County government will take care of about 95% of its power needs through a 35-year power purchase agreement for the 20 megawatts of Emsworth generation. Another 20 megawatts will be generated by the Montgomery project.

    In an interview with the Business Times, Rye CEO Paul Jacob said the projects are coming along and ground will be broken sometime next year. Rye provided to the US Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates the dams, detailed engineering plans for the Montgomery dam. The US Army Corps have to give the go-ahead; other regulators including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have also had to approve or will. Rye is also releasing the work order for equipment supply agreements.

    - Read more

  • A look into ways to improve, expand hydropower to reach U.S. energy goals

    The Biden administration previously announced funding towards hydropower growth, with ambitious goals to achieve renewable energy. NBC’s Maura Barrett visited the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project and speaks on their success generating power from a pre-existing dam.

    - View on NBC News

  • 'Landmark’ climate law turns up the power on Pa. solar, wind, hydropower energy projects

    Green energy is bracing for growth.

    The climate law signed by President Joe Biden in August is poised to drive a surge of investment in renewable energy as it extends and expands tax credits that have proven crucial to establishing clean energy on the grid.

    Solar, wind, hydropower and energy storage industries are major beneficiaries of the Inflation Reduction Act, which analysts expect will cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

    Advocates for an array of renewable energy industries in Pennsylvania agree that a key benefit of the climate law is the certainty it provides to project developers by broadening clean energy tax credits, increasing their maximum rates and extending them for a decade or more.

    - Read more

  • Expansion of Clean Energy Loans Is ‘Sleeping Giant’ of Climate Bill

    Tucked into the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden signed last week is a major expansion of federal loan programs that could help the fight against climate change by channeling more money to clean energy and converting plants that run on fossil fuels to nuclear or renewable energy.

    The law authorizes as much as $350 billion in additional federal loans and loan guarantees for energy and automotive projects and businesses. The money, which will be disbursed by the Energy Department, is in addition to the better-known provisions of the law that offer incentives for the likes of electric cars, solar panels, batteries and heat pumps.

    The aid could breathe life into futuristic technologies that banks might find too risky to lend to or into projects that are just short of the money they need to get going.

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  • Giving old dams new life could spark an energy boom

    Most American dams are more than 60 years old, and many have outlived their utility or present public safety risks. There is a consensus both in the hydroelectric industry and among environmentalists that these dams should be removed. However, there is growing interest on the part of hydroelectric companies to tap into the energy-producing potential of the nonpowered dams that remain essential to our infrastructure.

    Nonpowered dams compose the vast majority of America’s dam infrastructure. They can be found across the country, come in all sizes and were built to address a wide array of needs, including flood control, navigation, water supply and recreation. Out of the estimated 90,000 dams in the United States, about 2,200 of them generate hydroelectric power. These hydropower resources, however, account for 7 percent of national energy production and contribute 37 percent of the nation’s renewable energy supply.

    Hydropower interests and their supporters stress that hydropower could play a crucial and potentially unique role in energy production. Solar and wind produce energy intermittently, but hydropower can operate day or night, 24/7. Some hydropower facilities can shut down or ramp up energy production very quickly, providing energy grids with stopgap flexibility during peak demand or in the case of blackouts.

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  • Alternative Power Plays: Power Players - Paul Jacob and Michael Rooney

    On this podcast, we talk to companies across industries about the new and innovative ways in which they are getting electricity to their facilities, buildings and other sites. On this episode, we are talking to a company building upon some longstanding technologies for producing and storing energy that will play a key role in a more renewable and sustainable energy future.

    - Read more

  • Hydropower eyes bigger energy role, less environmental harm

    In southwestern Pennsylvania, eight locks and dams that for decades helped barges move goods along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers will in a few years also generate enough power for 75,000 homes.

    Rye Development, a Boston-based hydropower company, is retrofitting the dams with turbines to generate electricity and says the upgraded structures will limit damage to the rivers’ water quality and fish.

    The project reflects a recent thawing between the industry and conservation groups, which had long opposed dams that can prevent fish migration, alter water temperatures and cause other environmental problems. As the U.S. pushes to transition to low-carbon energy, Rye is among the companies that sees an opportunity to expand hydropower production at existing dams while working to minimize environmental harms.

    The recent compromises between the industry and environmental groups are reflected in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, which puts $2.5 billion toward projects including dam removals as well as upgrades at existing structures for hydropower and energy storage.

    “We do recognize that (hydropower) is probably going to play some role in the transition. It’s certainly better than coal,” said Ted Illston of American Rivers, which has advocated for dam removals on environmental grounds.

    - Read the full article

  • Allegheny Couty, Rye Development enter power purchase agreement to support locally generated renewable energy

    Allegheny County committed to locally generated renewable energy last week, entering into a 35-year power purchase agreement with Rye Development LLC to purchase renewable energy generated by a 17.8 MW low-impact hydropower facility Rye will construct on the Ohio River.

    “This is a landmark day for our county,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “This announcement renews our commitment to the environment, our commitment to addressing climate change and is an investment in our future generations.”

    The collaboration with Rye addresses the region’s capacity issues, which remain one of the largest challenges to expanding renewable energy access, particularly with locally generated clean energy.

    For each year that the agreement is in effect, the county will offset emissions equivalent to the entire electrical consumption of more than 3,400 households. Over the life of the agreement, the county’s purchases will offset over 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, approximately equal to 2.6 billion miles driven in a typical passenger vehicle.

    - Read the full article

  • Report: PA stands to gain 243,000 jobs a year from clean energy investment

    Although President Joe Biden’s actions on climate change have stirred anxieties about job loss in energy-producing states like Pennsylvania, a new report predicts that plans like Biden’s could create roughly a quarter-million jobs annually in the Commonwealth. And within hours after the report’s release, local officials announced a small but symbolic down payment on green energy investment.

    The 243,000 clean-energy jobs that could be created each year over the next decade in Pennsylvania “are jobs across the board,” said Robert Pollin, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and one of the study’s authors.

    “We’re looking at jobs for carpenters, machinists, environmental scientists, secretaries, accountants, truck drivers, roofers, agricultural labor,” Pollin said, referring to positions that would be required to achieve higher energy efficiency standards, develop new products and infrastructure, and restore land that’s been used for mining and drilling.

    - Read the full article

  • New hydroelectric facility on Ohio River to power county government operations

    A hydropower plant planned along the Ohio River will supply electricity for county-run buildings over the next few decades, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Thursday, promoting the move as a landmark environmental commitment.

    Under a 35-year agreement with Boston-based Rye Development, the county will buy renewable power from the 17.8-megawatt plant the company intends to build at the Emsworth Locks and Dams. Construction is expected to begin late in 2021 and foster up to 200 jobs, while permanent staffing for the finished facility may be two full-time workers, according to the county.

    The project requires Army Corps of Engineers approval.

    The plant is set to open as early as mid-2023 and shouldn’t have any effect on recreation on the river, according to the county. Rye will pursue a low-impact environmental certification as it works to “ensure that the local river ecosystem is protected,” the county said in a statement.

    - Read the full article

  • Allegheny County inks 35-year deal to use hydropower generated in Emsworth for government buildings

    The power used by the Allegheny County Courthouse, jail and other government buildings will be generated by hydroelectric energy harnessed from the Emsworth Lock and Dam, county Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Thursday.

    Fitzgerald was joined by Paul Jacob, CEO of Boston-based Rye Development, which has an office in Downtown Pittsburgh, and other officials as they celebrated a milestone toward using more climate-friendly energy sources.

    The project has been in the works for several years and was the second piece of good environmental news shared by the county recently.

    On Tuesday, the county announced that all eight of its air quality monitors met federal air quality standards — something that hadn’t been accomplished since the standards were put into place more than two decades ago.

    - Read the full article

  • Proposed Hydroelectric Plant Will Power Allegheny County Buildings by 2023

    Plans have been unveiled to construct a low-impact hydroelectric plant on the Ohio River at the Emsworth Dam that’s intended to power all Allegheny County buildings by 2023.

    Rye Development will build the facility which will cost about $50 million and create 150 to 200 construction jobs.

    “The benefits of doing an agreement like this are cost savings, risk reduction against market price increases, pollution reduction,” explains Joylette Portlock, executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, which is a partner in this project. “But also, I think it’s important to note that this is a change in the conversation of really improving our conception of what’s possible.

    - Read the full article