Rye Development Selected by U.S. Department of Energy to Receive $81 Million for Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Project

Rye Development is one of five organizations that received Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding as part of the DOE’s Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land (CEML). The Lewis Ridge Project will be one of the first pumped storage hydropower facilities constructed in the United States in more than 30 years, and the first ever to be built on former mine land.

Lewis Ridge is a closed-loop pumped storage facility using two man-made reservoirs, leaving existing waterways and wildlife undisturbed. When energy demand is low, electricity is used to pump water to the upper reservoir. When the grid requires more energy, such as during times of peak demand or extreme weather events, water flows downhill to generate electricity. In the United States, pumped storage hydropower currently represents 96% of domestic energy storage capacity, making it the most dependable energy storage solution. Pumped storage hydropower facilities typically operate for generations and are the most climate-friendly long-duration storage solution, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study released in 2023.

“This project is not only a significant investment in Kentucky; it’s an investment in strengthening our national electricity grid, helping to secure our energy future,” said Paul Jacob, CEO of Rye Development. “The Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Project will protect against blackouts and brownouts, while transforming a former mining site into a long-term economic engine for the region.”

The Lewis Ridge project will create approximately 1,500 construction jobs during the multiyear construction period and provide increased revenue for local businesses and government. In partnership with Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), a nonpartisan organization dedicated to reversing population loss and driving prosperity in the Kentucky Appalachian region, Rye is committed to hiring and training a local workforce.

“In close collaboration with our regional partners, this project demonstrates how we can breathe new life into former mining sites with proven technology built to last for more than a century,” said Sandy Slayton, vice president of Rye Development and the project manager for the Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Project. “This region and its skilled workforce are ready to create a new energy legacy in Eastern Kentucky.”