New hydroelectric plant proposed for Kittanning Borough

October 12, 2016

Local officials and citizens were informed of a new hydroelectric power generating plant that may be built in Kittanning.

The plant would be built on the Lock 7 dam along the shoreline of the Allegheny River in Kittanning Borough.

The project is being proposed by Rye Development, with primary offices in Portland, Oregon.

Rye Development Vice-President Erik Steimle led the discussion and listened to concerns raised by citizens at Tuesday’s public meeting at the Kittanning Township Fire Hall.

Rye Vice-President Erik Steimle and Environmental Vice-Present Kelli Doherty explained the company’s project to approximately 12 people in an afternoon session who consisted of government officials, business leaders, and residents who could be displaced when the new plant is constructed.

Steimle said the proposal includes a 16.5 mega-watt power house that could potentially provide electricity for as many as 8,000 residents. The power “house” would be located on the opposite side of Lock 7.

Steimle said that although Rye is applying to build plants all over the United States, they do not actually have any of them up and running yet.

“Right now, we are beginning the feasibility and permitting process for a new hydro power project here. The earliest the project construction could begin would be sometime in 2020,” Steimle told the Kittanning Paper. He said the construction of the plant could employ anywhere from 50 to 200 workers. However, once completed, only a staff of three persons will be needed to actually work in the facility.

Access to the facility and a parking lot could be built through the purchase of property off of Maple Street. Steimle said homeowners have not yet been contacted as the project is still in the preliminary stages.

Jeff Miller from Snyder Associated Companies discussed dredging operations and participated personally in the discussion.

Jeff Miller with Snyder Associated Companies brought up concerns about the dredging moratorium current in effect for this part of the Allegheny River. Steimle said that construction is a permitted activity in the water and therefore does not come under the same rules as business activity that was previously conducted by Snyder company, Glacial Sand and Gravel.

“It’s not any different; it’s just a different industry,” Miller told Doherty. He also questioned if Rye could financially support the Allegheny River Development Corporation, who fund-raises to keep the locks operational for recreational boating each year. Steimle was not able to discuss any agreements at this point since the planning is exploratory.

Kittanning First Ward Council persons Betsy Wilt and David Croyle expressed concerns with running power lines down Water Street and crossing Market.

“We’ve spent millions of dollars on Market Street. We’ve done a complete revitalization project that buried all of those (utility) lines. I would like to see how you are going to go from that location without going over Market Street to carry those lines with the capacity you are talking about,” Croyle said.

Croyle also said he would like to see an agreement between Rye and the borough to provide funding that would make it advantageous for the community to support the project.

Steimle encouraged the public to file comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by writing to them at 888 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20426 and reference docket P-14522. Comments may be filed electronically by visiting:

FFP New Hydro:
Don Lauzon
Vice President