US-based hydropower developer Rye Development is advancing plans for the its proposed Lewis Ridge Closed Loop Pumped Hydropower Storage project in Bell County, Kentucky, with the company having filed its Pre-Application Document (PAD) and Notice of Intent to file a License Application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

“The PAD filing for Lewis Ridge is an important milestone in the development process,” said Paul Jacob, CEO of Rye Development. “Rye is excited to partner with the local community on this important project and to help deliver significant jobs and economic benefits to this coal region and state as the U.S. electric grid transitions.” 

Lewis Ridge will bring over 2,000 family wage construction jobs during a 3 to 5-year build period, as well as several dozen direct and indirect family-wage jobs during project operations. 

“When Congressman Hal Rogers and Governor Steve Beshear founded SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) nearly a decade ago, they imagined it to be an organization dedicated to supporting long-term economic development and innovation in Eastern Kentucky,” said Colby Hall, Executive Director of SOAR. “That is why we’re proud to support Rye Development’s Lewis Ridge project, which will represent a projected $1+ billion investment into Eastern Kentucky. On top of this, it will pave the way for more high-tech employers to locate in the region, creating good-paying jobs for more Eastern Kentuckians. SOAR has no higher priority than this.” 

Recognizing the value of these multi-generational infrastructure assets, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act placed a 30% investment tax credit on pumped storage with the opportunity to increase that credit to 50% when located in former fossil fuel communities. 

“It’s important to note that as mining winds down, the community will need the construction and permanent jobs in the future,” stated Michael Gambrel, general manager of the mine site for landowner Asher Land and Mineral in Pineville, and past mining engineer on Jackson Mountain. “This will be a good thing, because the coal is almost gone from this property, and it will not be an idle property when we  get this project permitted and constructed. It will be good for the community, the state, and the property owner.” 

The PAD filing illustrates available information for all resource areas that will be assessed by FERC during the licensing process. Lewis Ridge is expected to break ground in 2027 and begin delivering reliable, affordable power in 2030.