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GASP: Allegheny County Renewable Energy Agreement A Positive Step for Local Sustainability

Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald this week announced an investment in locally-generated clean energy, with Allegheny County entering into a 35-year agreement with Boston-based Rye Development to purchase renewable energy generated by a low-impact hydropower facility. Rye, which also has an office in Pittsburgh, will construct the facility on the Ohio River. 

In a press release Fitzgerald said for each year the agreement is in effect, Allegheny County will offset emissions equivalent to the entire electrical consumption of more than 3,400 households. Over the life of the agreement, the county’s purchases will offset more than 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, roughly equal to 2.6 billion miles driven in a typical passenger vehicle

“This announcement renews our commitment to the environment, our commitment to addressing climate change and is an investment in our future generations,” he said.

The release touted the agreement as a “significant step forward in the county’s continued commitment to sustainability and renewable energy.”

“We commend Allegheny County for its commitment to a large scale renewable energy project and the leadership they’ve taken to address climate change locally,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said.

The collaboration with Rye addresses one of the largest challenges to expanding access to renewable energy, particularly locally-generated clean energy: Capacity. The long-term commitment and partnership with Rye furthers the goal of a community-powered by 100 percent renewable energy. 

The hydropower facility will be located at the existing Emsworth Main Channel Dam on the Ohio River. The hydropower project is scheduled to begin construction in late 2021 and is expected to be operational as early as mid-2023. 

There will be no impact on the recreational use of the waterways as a result of the project. 

“Allegheny County continues to demonstrate its leadership with forward-thinking projects that benefit residents, the environment, and the local economy,” said Joylette Portlock, Ph.D., Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh. “Investing in large scale renewable energy is a major step towards responsibly addressing climate change in southwestern Pennsylvania and invests in the health and the future of our communities.” 

Editor’s Note: You can read Allegheny County’s entire news release here

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