Pennsylvania studying feasibility of three hydro projects at state parks

Studying hydro in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council received a $20,000 grant from the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund to complete feasibility assessments for three potential hydro projects in state parks in western Pennsylvania.

Two of the projects would integrate hydroelectric generation equipment into existing dam structures, at Moraine State Park and McConnell’s Mill State Park. The third project, at Ohiopyle State Park, would produce electricity by installing a turbine in an underground pipe.

“Many of Pennsylvania’s state parks have existing infrastructure that could be retrofitted to produce clean energy without negatively impacting the ecosystem or recreational users,” says Lindsay Baxter, program manager for energy and climate for PEC.

Electricity generated by these projects would both reduce the environmental impact of park operations and save money, allowing the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to spend this money on its core mission, according to a press release.

“DCNR is committed to sustainability throughout our operations, and the use of hydropower would be an excellent complement to the existing solar installations and small wind turbines we have at several of our state parks and forests,” said John Norbeck, DCNR deputy secretary for state parks and forestry. “Installing sustainable practices on public lands provide models that our visitors can learn from, and also information for us to consider at other places on the lands that we manage.”

An added benefit would be the opportunity to educate the public by installing these projects in highly utilized state parks.

The studies should be completed in the fall, and additional assessments may be needed to determine if the projects are technically and economically feasible.

PEC is a statewide organization that brings people, government, and business together to find real world solutions for environmental challenges. The West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that invests in the deployment of sustainable energy technologies that benefit West Penn Power ratepayers in Pennsylvania.

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