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Hydropower is looking at the role of greater energy, less harm to the environment

Washington (AP) —In southwestern Pennsylvania, eight locks and dams that helped move supplies along the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers for decades will now reach 75,000 households within a few years. Generate enough power.

Rye Development, a Boston-based hydropower company, says it is converting turbines to dams to generate electricity, and the upgraded structure limits river water quality and damage to fish.

This project reflects a recent thaw between industry and conservation groups that has long opposed dams that could prevent fish migration, change water temperatures and cause other environmental problems. Rye is one of the companies as the United States is driving the transition to low carbon energy. It sees the opportunity to expand hydropower production in existing dams while working to minimize harm to the environment.

Recent compromises between industry and environmental groups are reflected in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, with $ 2.5 billion in projects including dam removal and upgrades to existing structures for hydropower and energy storage. I’m throwing.

“We recognize that (hydropower) probably plays a role in the transition. It’s certainly better than coal,” said Ted of the American Rivers, who advocates the removal of the dam for environmental reasons.・ Ilston said.

Hydropower, which uses flowing water to rotate turbines connected to generators, is the oldest and second largest source of renewable energy in the United States after wind power. By 2020, it accounted for about 7% of the electricity generated domestically.

The industry does not receive as much federal funding and tax incentives as wind and solar, but there is room for growth. Of the 90,000 dams in the country, about 2,500 produce electricity. Non-power dams can produce 9 to 12 million electricity. Housing, according to estimates by the Power Supply Association based on 2012 federal data.

Part of the challenge is that most dams in the United States were built over half a century ago. The risk of dam failure has been fueled by more than 40% of the country’s removal of about 2,000 dams in recent years. The last 10 years. Some have been demolished primarily for environmental reasons.

Last month, federal regulators stepped closer to approving the largest dam demolition in US history. Removing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River near the Oregon-California border can save river salmon and other fish species. It does not reach the breeding habitat due to its structure.

The hydropower industry and conservation groups are still clashing over dams. On the main Kennebec River, conservation groups and state environmental agencies are pushing for the removal of four hydroelectric dams that prevent endangered Atlantic salmon from reaching their major habitat. State renewable energy.

“It’s very easy for individual river systems to get lost in the message of climate change and the need for renewable energy,” said Managing Director of the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, which rates hydropower dams based on environmental standards. Shannon Ames says.

Droughts affecting hydropower continue On the western side of the Mississippi River, the industry is on a more direct path to expansion in the eastern states.

In Pennsylvania, Rye is one of the few companies seeking certification from the Group to consult low-impact hydropower plants early in the process.

To be certified, the company must demonstrate that it meets the protection of endangered species, the cultural and historical use of rivers, and the passageways of fish and recreation areas. The group states that environmental standards are often stricter than state or federal guidelines.

For example, at a recently certified dam on the Ohio River in West Virginia, a five-year study found that dissolved oxygen levels (an important indicator of river water quality) met or exceeded state standards. The organization is eligible for the Green Energy Program.

Lai built a fishing pier because the Pennsylvania dam contains structures that support fish migration and federal regulators require hydropower plant producers to support river system recreation. I said that I am doing it.

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The Associated Press is supported by the Walton Family Foundation for coverage of water and environmental policies. AP is solely responsible for all content. See https://apnews.com/hub/environment for all Associated Press environmental coverage.

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