Low-impact hydropower projects

Through PEC’s hydroelectric permitting work we became aware of several small and micro hydropower projects that failed to come to fruition, despite technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness.


Through PEC’s hydroelectric permitting work we became aware of several small and micro hydropower projects that failed to come to fruition, despite technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness.

Many low-impact projects are at existing dams or water outflows that are often owned by municipalities, water authorities, watershed associations, rural landowners, or other entities that lack the time, financing, and expertise to shepherd projects from start to finish, at least as the process is currently structured.

While the complexity of permitting and licensing requirements is an identified barrier, access to upfront financing and a lack of local examples were also identified as challenges.

To fully understand the challenges that face a hydropower project and what could help bring more projects from idea to production, PEC, with support from the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund, has identified three potential projects in state parks in Western Pennsylvania to undergo feasibility assessments.  We hope by gaining first-hand experience we will be better prepared to assist others in bringing projects into production. If these projects are successful, they will serve as models for projects at other state-owned facilities.

 

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