US$1.3 billion Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Hydropower Project receives federal grant

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) together with Andy Beshear, the governor of Kentucky, have announced a financial boost for US$1.3 billion Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Hydropower Project. The federal government has approved a US$81 million federal grants for the project. The billion-dollar hydropower facility will be constructed in southeastern Kentucky, Bell County. Funding for the project has been provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It is the first of its kind facility to be built on former coal mine and. The project will create 1,500 construction jobs and 30 operations jobs, officials said. It will also deliver enough clean energy to power about 67,000 homes annually.

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Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Hydropower Scope

The project is expected to put out 287WM of hydropower electricity. Hydropower pumped storage facilities work by having two water reservoirs at different elevations. Water is released when demand for electricity is high. It flows downhill through a turbine to generate power. The water is pumped back uphill when demand for power is low.

Project Timeline

Rye Development estimates that the project could take seven to 10 years to construct, with the project’s longevity lasting up to a century. There are dozens of utility-scale hydropower pumped storage facilities across the country, according to the Center for Land Use Interpretation. The development company also has such storage facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

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“This is a mountain that has on it five different coal seams and countless mines. We’re building on the top of that mountain basically a 60-acre pool. That itself is an engineering challenge. But the federal grant that we’ve received is going to help de-risk that and help us accelerate the project,” said Rye Development chief executive officer Paul Jacob.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, called the project regionally “transformational,” saying it would have a huge impact on a region that was previously a “rich energy production area.”

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Rye’s collaboration with SOAR

Rye Development is collaborating with Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), to hire and train a local workforce. SOAR is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to reversing population loss and driving prosperity in the Kentucky Appalachian region.

In other news, The Senate passed a legislation from Senator John Kennedy and Senator Bill Cassidy that will protect two hydropower construction projects in Louisiana. The bill will allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend hydropower construction permits for both projects. This will provide both of Louisiana’s Red River projects with additional time to begin construction in order to bring these projects online.

$1bn pumped hydropower storage project development kickstarts in the US

As the top Republican on the Senate’s Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Kennedy has expanded America’s hydropower capabilities. The FY 2024 Energy and Water appropriation package included $440 million in investments for the nation’s dam and levee infrastructure, including $36.5 million Kennedy secured to reinforce the Boggs Lock and Dam on the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway.