Meet the team

BG (Ret'd) Robert Crear

BG (Ret'd) Robert Crear


Brigadier General (Retired) Robert Crear joined Rye’s management team in 2008 at Free Flow Power. He is the former Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Vicksburg District, Southwest Division, Mississippi Valley Division and President of the Mississippi River Commission, a Presidential appointment. He led the Corp’s infrastructure recovery and restoration efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and he was the commander of the task force to restore Iraq’s oil infrastructure in 2003. General Crear also served as Chief of Staff of the Corp’s headquarters in Washington, DC. He has a BS from Jackson State University and an MS from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Paul Jacob

Chief Executive Officer

Joining Rye’s predecessor, Free Flow Power as it pivoted to focus on conventional hydropower, Paul has been responsible for project and corporate development with a focus on commercial activities and governmental and stakeholder outreach. Previously, Paul spent 10 years with the Edison Mission Energy group, as President of Marketing and Trading, where he managed an $8 billion portfolio of wind, coal and natural gas fired generation. Prior to that, Paul spent nearly a decade with the Citizens Energy companies building an energy management and marketing venture and helping to define the structure of the electricity marketplace. Paul holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.


Jay Anders

Chief Operating Officer, EPC

Jay is an avid supporter of clean, green, carbon free, renewable energy. He has over 30 years of experience in the various areas of hydropower generation. For the first half of his career, he worked directly for the Tennessee Valley Authority in support of various hydropower plant upgrades, modernizations, and automation projects. For the last 15 years, he has continued to lead hydropower projects for clients across North America. His project experience ranges from small run-of-river hydropower projects to new development for closed-loop pump storage plants. Jay is a registered professional engineer, a US Navy submarine veteran, and is the current Chair of the National Hydropower Association Board of Directors.

He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Master’s in Engineering Management. He also holds a BA in Business Administration from Columbia College.

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Isida Tushe

General Counsel

Isida serves as the General Counsel of the Company. She brings expertise in traditional and alternative energy across multiple markets having held senior positions in both public and private corporations both in business and law. That experience includes VP & Senior Counsel of Commercial Transactions at a renewable energy company. Earlier in her career at FuelCell Energy, Inc., a publicly traded, global energy company, she was VP of Project Finance, leading capital raising for the company via debt, equity and tax equity instruments. Isida holds a J.D., an M.A. and a double B.A.

Dave Bronson

Chief Financial Officer

Dave has over 20 years of financial leadership experience across multiple industries in geothermal engineering, construction management, medical REITs, and healthcare. He has a track record of driving growth and profitability in highly competitive markets. He graduated Cum Laude from California State University Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Accounting and holds a Master’s in Accountancy with Honors from Stetson University.

Ushakar Jha, PE

Ushakar Jha, PE

Vice President, Project Engineering

Ushakar has been a critical part of the conceptual design engineering, including cost estimation and generation modeling, of FFP New Hydro’s projects since 2011. Prior to joining Free Flow Power, Rye’s predecessor firm, Ushakar had more than 8 years of hydropower- specific engineering and construction experience on a wide range of hydropower projects from 5 MW to 500 MW at SNC Lavalin, where he managed a team working on civil design, structural design, hydraulic design, and due diligence, including the preparation of construction schedules. Ushakar has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Hydraulic Engineering, and an MBA from the Hult International Business School.

Mel Keleber, PE

Mel Koleber, PE

Vice President

Mel has more than 36 years of experience in hydropower project development, including planning, feasibility studies, licensing, design, construction, and operations, at locations world-wide. At Rye Development, Mel will be primarily involved in major equipment system procurement, design development and review, and working with the team to manage the technical review interface with the FERC, the USACE, and others, during the design and construction process. He holds a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Colorado.

Erik Steimle, CEP

Erik Steimle, CEP

Vice President of Project Development

Erik is responsible for project development activities at Rye ranging from equipment procurement, consulting contracts, business development, and ensuring a predictable development process. Erik’s professional background includes more than 15 years of new hydropower development in the US and a consistent track record of project completion in difficult markets and regulatory environments. Erik was a Director at Symbiotics and then Riverbank Power from 2007-2012, managing the largest portfolio of IPP FERC Licenses on federal dams in the US. He has managed due diligence investigations for hydropower sales, acquisitions, and joint ventures in the US, Canada, and South America. Erik has a B.S. in Environmental Biology from Southern Oregon University.

Michael Rooney

Michael Rooney

Vice President of Project Management

Michael brings a successful track record of stakeholder engagement, public policy analysis, and project management to the Rye team. Previously, Michael spent 10 years in the nonprofit and higher education sectors, focusing on issues ranging from international development to environmental education. Most recently, Michael managed a diverse grantmaking portfolio for a large family foundation which included leading the foundation’s energy and environment investments. Michael holds a BA from Allegheny College and a Master of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

Nathan Sandvig

Vice President

Mr. Sandvig is a seasoned renewable energy developer and joins our team after leading National Grid’s utility scale energy storage business. Prior to his role at National Grid, Nate served in senior development and campaign roles at MWH Global, EDF Renewable Energy, EDP Renewables, and Noble Environmental Power. Nate brings considerable value to Rye as we transition into the construction of a number of high-profile projects requiring careful management of ongoing relationships with local communities, elected officials, and both renewable energy and energy storage advocacy organizations.

Nate graduated from the United States Military Academy, and after serving as combat veteran in Iraq, earned a Masters Degree in Project Management from George Washington University.

Sandy Slayton

Sandy Slayton

Director of Environmental Compliance

Sandy leads environmental permitting, compliance, and agency coordination at Rye, joining us with 18 years of experience in environmental science consulting. Sandy has managed licensing and compliance for both pumped storage and traditional hydro projects including relicensing, ACOE dam retrofits, and new development. Her background in watershed planning, water quality analysis, habitat assessment, floodplain management, NEPA writing, and agency consultation provides additional value to her role at Rye. She has a B.A. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia and a M.A. in Ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Andrew Blystra, PE

Andrew Blystra, PE

Consulting Engineer

Andrew has more than 30 years of experience permitting, designing, building and maintaining hydropower projects, including on USACE dams. He has licensed new build projects and re-licensed operating facilities, and implemented all license articles in each case. He also has significant experience with managing environmental impacts analysis and mitigation plans for hydro-power projects. He is a licensed professional engineer in 6 states.