Protect Cuffs Run

WHAT IS THE PROPOSED PUMPED STORAGE PROJECT?

In 2023, York Energy Storage, LLC proposed construction of a 225-foot-high 1.8-mile dam and power turbine pumped storage facility, which would flood 580 acres of land along the Susquehanna River rich with natural, cultural, and recreational resources.

The facility, which would be located along the river in York County, would use electricity from the grid to fill a reservoir with water from the Susquehanna River when the cost of power is low, then release the water to generate energy during peak power usage periods when the price of energy is highest.

The Current Permit Timeline

This is the fourth time in four decades that some company or another has applied for a Preliminary Permit to study this VERY SAME PROJECT. 

February 10, 2023: York Energy Storage applied for a preliminary permit for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

September 6, 2023: FERC rejected the permit, citing two deficiencies.

November 14, 2023: York Energy Storage reapplied for a preliminary permit.

January 5, 2024: FERC issued a Deficiency Letter.

January 15, 2024: York Energy Storage resubmitted to FERC.

February 1, 2024: FERC accepted the preliminary permit application and provided public notice of it. We are now in a 60-day window to file comments and interventions objecting to the project. Comments and interventions can be filed through March 31, 2024.

WHY WE ARE OPPOSED

The Lancaster Conservancy along with multiple government, nonprofit, and community partners (including Susquehanna National Heritage Area, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County, and Cuffs Run Alliance) is opposed to this proposed pumped storage facility. Among other reasons, the project would 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 much needed to help ensure the ecological health of the Susquehanna Riverlands landscape and waterway.

The proposed pumped storage facility would affect this area where Cuffs Run enters the Susquehanna River. (Photo by Susquehanna National Heritage Area)
A stretch of the Mason-Dixon Trail runs through the area that would be impacted by the pumped storage project. (Photo by Sean Roberts)
The view of the Susquehanna River from the portion of the Maxon-Dixon Trail included in the proposed Cuffs Run pumped storage facility project area (Photo by Keith Williams)

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.

The orange star represents the proposed pumped storage project site within the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape.

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 yet another power generation facility be added on this stretch of the river.

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 demand and the price of energy are high. According to York Energy Storage’s permit application, the efficiency of the project is expected to be 80%. This means that it takes about 20% more energy to pump the water into the reservoir than is generated when that water is released.

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. About 60% of the energy generated by the PJM grid (which includes Pennsylvania and Maryland along with all or part of 11 other states and Washington D.C.) comes from natural gas and coal.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

File Interventions or Comments with FERC

The Conservancy is actively organizing opposition with our partners and preparing to legally intervene with FERC to formally object to the project. You can also intervene or file comments to let FERC know we don’t want this facility on our lower Susquehanna River.

In general, individuals who are not landowners within the project boundaries might be best served by using their time to submit comments. Intervention makes you an actual legal party to the case while filing comments alone makes you a commenter but not an actual legal party. Either way FERC must consider your comments and objections in deciding this important case. And FERC will consider those comments whether or not you also intervene.

Learn how with the buttons below.

Tips for Commenting

Comments and motions to intervene can be filed through March 31, 2024.

Anyone can intervene or comment, and you can comment multiple times. It is important for FERC to see the hundreds or thousands of people opposed to this project and the many different reasons why they are opposed. We anticipate many people commenting each and every day between now and March 31st. You do not need to be a property owner whose home would be destroyed to have a stake in commenting or intervening.

The FERC Docket Number for the Proposed Pump Storage Project by York Energy Storage:

P-15332-000

Here are just a few reasons you can object to and say you will be impacted by this proposed project (though we recommend that you personalize your response to FERC as much as possible to be effective):

  • You walk, bike, rock climb, or run on the Enola Low Grade Trail in Martic Township, and the forested viewshed across the river from the trail will be impacted.
  • You’re a hiker, and one of the most remotely beautiful sections of the Mason-Dixon Trail along the Susquehanna will be developed.
  • You paddle or boat on the Susquehanna River and are concerned about additional hydroelectric projects impacting your experience, including viewshed, noise, and water levels on the river.
  • You are a resident who is concerned about the continued loss of natural wildlife habitat and the impact of development on biodiversity.
  • You fish and don’t want to see aquatic life harmed by another hydroelectric facility.
  • You are concerned about the negative impacts on water quality in the river and the broader Chesapeake Bay.
  • You do not want to see the loss of historic and cultural resources known to be present in the region.
  • You worry about the potential impacts of the project to bird populations along the significant Mid-Atlantic migratory flyway.
  • You own a business in the region that relies on outdoor recreation tourism and are concerned about the economic impact of this project on your business.
  • You are concerned about the emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as debris trapped by the dam decomposes.

JOIN AN EVENT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT COMMENTING

When: Monday, March 4, at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Chanceford Township Office, 33 Muddy Creek Forks Road, Brogue, PA 17309

This meeting is an opportunity for the FERC Office of Public Participation (OPP) to educate the public on the application and licensing process. OPP will provide information on several ways the public can get involved with that process, including how and when to comment and intervene. They will also provide paper materials to those not able to engage online.

(This meeting is not a time to express opposition or support of the project itself to FERC staff. The OPP is not the department that collects statements or makes decisions on an application. They are participating in this meeting to encourage public participation.)

Graphic: FERC Office of Public Participation

Share Your Opposition

Help spread the word and grow community opposition to this project. Whether by discussing the negative impacts with friends and family, writing an op ed for your local paper, or sharing your opposition on social media, widespread public outcry about the project will let York Energy Storage and its potential investors know that their project is not a fit for Cuffs Run or our community.

We will continue to add resources and additional opportunities to oppose this project and learn more to this webpage. Please check back for updates.

Photos: Sean Roberts, Keith Williams, Avery Van Etten

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