Gov. Beshear: $81 Million Federal Grant To Help Build $1.3 Billion Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Hydropower Facility in Bell County, Creating 1,530 Jobs

Former coal mine site will deliver enough clean energy to power about 67,000 homes annually


FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 21, 2024) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to announce that the Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Project was approved for an up-to-$81 million federal grant to help construct a first-of-its-kind $1.3 billion coal-to-pumped storage hydropower facility in Bell County. The project will create about 1,500 high-quality construction jobs, 30 operations jobs and enough energy to power nearly 67,000 homes each year.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Demonstration Program and Former Mine Land grant, funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, was approved for Rye Development to transition the former coal mine site, located adjacent to the Cumberland River, to a pumped-storage hydroelectric facility.

“Congratulation to Rye Development and thank you to Secretary Jennifer Granholm and the Department of Energy for supporting Kentucky as we continue to meet America’s energy needs,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are so proud to support a project that builds on the region’s strong energy-producing history while creating those 1,530 good jobs that will help power the next generation.”

“President Biden believes that the communities that have powered our nation for the past 100 years should power our nation for the next 100 years,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to the President’s Investing in America agenda, DOE is helping deploy clean energy solutions on current and former mine land across the country—supporting jobs and economic development in the areas hit hardest by our evolving energy landscape.” 

“This project is not only a significant investment in Kentucky; it’s an investment in strengthening our national electricity grid, helping to secure our energy future,” said CEO of Rye Development Paul Jacob. “The Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Project will protect against blackouts and brownouts, while transforming a former mining site into a long-term economic engine for the region.”

Rye Development has been engaging with stakeholders since spring 2022, leading to 17 local letters of support and a partnership with Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), one of Kentucky’s six regional innovation hubs, which represents the 54 Appalachian Regional Commission counties. Rye and SOAR plan to prioritize local hiring through partnerships with several unions and Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College and by providing a Registered Apprenticeship Program and other workforce training activities.

“Today is a great day for Bell County and all of Eastern Kentucky. Thanks to the hard work of Rye Development and with financial support from the Department of Energy's Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, a $1.3 billion project that will employ over 1,500 Eastern Kentuckians in the next decade is coming to life,” said Colby Hall, executive director of SOAR. “SOAR is grateful for the support of its co-principal officers, Gov. Andy Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers, who were key in helping secure this $83 million grant. We look forward to assisting the Rye Development team as they make a monumental investment in this region.”

“This is great news for Southeastern Kentucky and the commonwealth,” said Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. “This project will be a substantial investment in an economically depressed region that needs this type of innovation. I am thrilled about this partnership, which stands to transform a former energy asset that powered Kentucky and America into a continued resource for our future. This project has the potential to power 67,000 homes and offer the hard-working people of our region a brighter future.”

The Lewis Ridge Project is the type of critical infrastructure project that is envisioned by Gov. Beshear’s Energy Strategy, KYE3, where energy, environment and economic development intersect.

These facilities are the most common form of energy storage in the United States, representing 93% of all utility-scale storage. This project has the potential to produce up to eight hours of dispatchable power when needed, such as during times of peak demand or extreme weather events.

Rye Development is a leading U.S. hydropower developer. Rye has successfully partnered with community stakeholders around the United States to create critical energy infrastructure projects that drive job creation, foster substantial local economic development and positively impact underrepresented and disadvantaged communities. Learn more at

“Just as we are leading the EV revolution, Kentucky can also lead the energy storage revolution,” the Governor said. “Our economy is gaining momentum like we’ve never seen before, and the energy industry is a big part of it.”

Kentucky’s energy sector – which includes electric power generation, natural gas distribution, oil and gas extraction, coal mining, petroleum refining and pipeline transportation – currently employs more than 150,100 energy workers.

Click here to learn more about the project.