Chanceford Township, Pa. – As of today, more than a dozen organizations and elected officials have signed on to a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting it deny a proposal for a pumped storage hydroelectric facility at Cuffs Run in Chanceford Township, York County, along the Susquehanna River.
The $2.1 billion project proposed by York Energy Storage, LLC would involve construction of a 1.8-mile dam and power turbine pumped storage facility, which would flood 588 acres of land in the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape – an area along the Susquehanna River that is rich with natural, cultural, and recreational resources and that the state of Pennsylvania has prioritized for protection.
“The Lancaster Conservancy works tirelessly day in and out to protect and restore this landscape for the benefit of residents, visitors, and wildlife,” said Fritz Schroeder, President and CEO at Lancaster Conservancy. “A proposal that displaces generational farms and wildlife is heartbreaking. We are a region that has attracted national attention for our heritage and land protection, which is now being threatened by this very project. We simply can’t allow outsiders to exploit our natural resources.”
“Development of this scale directly conflicts with long-time, ongoing efforts of local, state, and national partners to protect and enhance the Susquehanna’s cultural and natural resources,” said Mark N. Platts, President of Susquehanna National Heritage Area. “It will consume over a thousand acres of treasured forests, farmland, trails, and historic sites, reversing 20+ years of public and private investment in conservation along the river. We and our partners are committed to stopping this unwanted and unneeded intrusion into this historic, nationally significant landscape.”
The landscape of the lower Susquehanna River gorge has been recognized by both state and federal governments as a landscape worthy of protection and investment. 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.
This proposed project would destroy preserved farms, a regional scenic trail, and forested lands much needed to help ensure the ecological health of this landscape and waterway.
“Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County has and continues to dedicate resources to preserving the important agricultural and environmentally sensitive landscapes in this very area,” said Sean Kenny, Executive Director of Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County. “Large blocks of open space like this in our communities are worth saving and celebrating – not constantly being targeted for development.”
“There are many concerns we share regarding water usage, impacts to aquatic life and water quality,” shared Ted Evgeniadis, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. “The proposed project is not one which is suitable for this area along the Lower Susquehanna River. The same project has been proposed before and has never been permitted. Nothing has changed, and this attempt to destroy our landscape for private profits should be thrown out once again.”
The proposed project would also impact around 50 private properties. One of the property owners, David Imhoff, has organized with other neighbors to form the Cuffs Run Alliance.
“It amazes me that a group of individuals could cobble together an engineering firm working out of a private residence, pull the work of others out of the public domain, and hold a community hostage for 10 long years, but that is what happened,” Imhoff said. “Now 20 years on, the same guy, same bad idea, new LLC is asking the FERC for the unfettered ability to punish this community again; without the obligation or common courtesy to demonstrate to anyone their technical and financial ability to be worthy of this responsibility. My neighbors and I have a problem with that.”
While sustainable renewable energy options are needed to protect our environment, this project is not green. Facilities like this one 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.
On July 6, FERC responded to York Energy Storage’s project proposal with a deficiency letter, giving them 45 additional days to provide clarity around details such as emergency spillways, dimensions of a proposed powerhouse, and improved mapping of the site.
The groups opposing this proposed project include the Cuffs Run Alliance, Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County, Lancaster Conservancy, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, and Susquehanna National Heritage Area.
If you would like to voice your opposition to the project, you can add your name to this letter to York Energy Storage, LLC.