Yesterday, Feb. 1, 2024, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) accepted a preliminary permit application for the construction of a pumped storage facility along the Susquehanna River in York County. Lancaster Conservancy is opposed to this project, which would flood 580 acres of land along the Susquehanna River rich with natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
“Lancaster Conservancy is disheartened by the news of FERC’s acceptance of the preliminary permit application submitted by York Energy Storage for a pumped storage project at Cuffs Run,” said Fritz Schroeder, Lancaster Conservancy’s President & CEO. “This proposed project is the antithesis of our efforts to protect and restore the natural landscape of the lower Susquehanna River. The Conservancy is actively organizing opposition with our partners and is preparing to legally intervene in the proceedings. We plan to share additional details in the coming two weeks, including ways in which the community can join us in opposing this destructive project.”
The over $2 billion project, proposed by York Energy Storage LLC, would involve construction of a 1.8-mile dam and power turbine pumped storage facility at Cuffs Run ravine and creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River. The project would displace over 40 residents and destroy preserved farms, a section of the regional scenic Mason-Dixon Trail in York County, the viewshed from the popular multimodal Enola Low Grade Trail in Lancaster County, and forested lands that are critical to ensuring the ecological health of the Susquehanna Riverlands landscape and waterways.
The landscape of the lower Susquehanna River gorge has been recognized by both state and federal governments as worthy of protection and investment. The state of Pennsylvania prioritized this area for protection as a Conservation Landscape in 2010, and the federal government designated the region a National Heritage Area in 2019.
In the last 10 years, over $100 million has been invested by county, state, and federal governments as well as nonprofit partners and local municipalities along the river. These investments have supported a thriving and growing outdoor recreation and tourism economy, which would be threatened should this project move forward.
While sustainable renewable energy options are needed to protect our environment, this project is not green. Facilities like this use electricity to pump water into a reservoir, then release it to generate electricity when needed. The proposed facility at Cuffs Run would involve the destruction of carbon-storing biodiverse forests, and it would use energy from a grid mostly powered by natural gas and coal to power the pumps that would fill the reservoir.
The Conservancy has been working to oppose this project over the last year alongside partners including the Cuffs Run Alliance, Farm and Natural Lands Trust of York County, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, and Susquehanna National Heritage Area.
York Energy Storage initially requested a permit for the project on Feb. 10, 2023. Following a series of deficiency letters from FERC and permit resubmission by York Energy Storage, FERC accepted the preliminary permit application on Feb. 1, 2024. Pumped storage projects were proposed for this same site, opposed, and withdrawn twice in the last three decades. Those who oppose the latest project now have until April 1, 2024, to file interventions with FERC.
Update Feb. 12, 2024:
Learn more about the proposed pumped storage project and how you can join the Conservancy in sharing your opposition at lancasterconservancy.org/protect-cuffs-run.