The PA Environmental Council Thursday announced it has received a $20,000 grant from the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund to complete feasibility assessments for three potential hydropower projects in Western Pennsylvania state parks.
“Many of Pennsylvania’s state parks have existing infrastructure that could be retrofitted to produce clean energy without negatively impacting the ecosystem or recreational uses,” explained Lindsay Baxter, PEC’s Program Manager for Energy and Climate.
Two of the projects under consideration, Moraine State Park and McConnells Mill State Park (photo), would integrate hydroelectric generation equipment into existing dam structures, to produce clean energy with the infrastructure that is already in place.
The third project at Ohiopyle State Park considers producing electricity by installing a turbine into an underground pipe carrying water downhill.
The clean energy that could potentially be produced by these projects would not only reduce the environmental impact of park operations but would also result in cost-savings, allowing the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to spend this money on its core mission, rather than a utility bill.
“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.”
The potential projects’ locations in highly-utilized state parks also provides an opportunity for education of the public.
“The state parks are an ideal location for these types of projects because millions of Pennsylvanians, from all walks of life, visit each year, having the opportunity to see sustainable energy projects up close,” said Joel Morrison, Executive Director, West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund, whose mission includes a focus on public education about sustainable energy solutions.
The studies funded by this grant should be completed in the fall. Pending the results, additional assessments may be needed to determine if the projects are technically and economically feasible.
For more information on PEC hydropower initiatives, visit PEC’s Low-Impact Hydropower Projects webpage. PEC’s recent reports on hydropower: Business Case Assessment For Hydropower and the Hydroelectric Permitting Manual For PA are also available.For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook. Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.