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Hydropower on Pittsburgh-Area Rivers Will Increase Clean Energy Sources

The Center for Energy Policy & Management (CEPM) launched its fall semester Energy Lecture series with “Clean Hydropower from the Three Rivers”. The webinar, including the question and answer period, can be found here, or by visiting This first fall semester program took a deeper look into hydropower, featuring Michael Rooney, vice president of project management at Rye Development. Rooney provided an overview of the current state of hydropower and discussed Rye’s mission of “developing and commercializ[ing]” hydropower projects in the United States. Hydropower is one of the oldest and largest sources of renewable energy, using the natural flow of moving water to spin propeller-style blades that then spin a generator, creating electricity. Hydropower currently accounts for 28.7% of total U.S. renewable electricity generation and about 6.2% of total U.S. electricity generation. According to Rooney, of the 90,000 existing dams in the United States, just 3 percent generate electricity. This fact, coupled with the United States’ push toward a carbon-free grid using renewable sources of energy, presents a massive opportunity. Rye’s plan is to retrofit existing dams across the country to generate electricity and develop energy storage systems for the energy generated. Southwestern Pennsylvania has the third busiest lock-and-dam systems in the country, according to Rooney, making the area attractive to developers like Rye. Rooney spoke of Rye’s intention to develop existing dams in the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers to be power generators for the region. The company expects to invest nearly $1 billion in 10 projects in the region and has already reached purchase agreements for the clean power that will be generated. To learn more about hydropower and Rye Development’s plans for the region, please view the webinar here!

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