Bipartisan coalition of elected officials united in opposing Cuffs Run hydro project

As public officials, we are accustomed to vibrant discussion and heated debate about issues impacting our communities, commonwealth, and nation. We disagree at times with our colleagues from the other side of the proverbial political aisle.

We stand united, however, in strong opposition to the proposed construction of a 25-foot-high, 1.8-mile-long dam and power turbine pump storage facility along the lower Susquehanna River at Cuffs Run in York County, Pennsylvania.

This project is being proposed by York Energy Storage, LLC of Berks County, which has applied for a preliminary permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

This project will flood 580 acres of a protected landscape rich with natural, cultural, and recreational resources. Construction of this project will impact hundreds more acres.

The landscape of the lower Susquehanna River gorge has been recognized by both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government as a landscape worthy of protection and investment. This area was designated as a Conservation Landscape by the Commonwealth in 2010 and a National Heritage Area by an Act of Congress in 2019. National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.

In the last 10 years, over $100 million has been invested by non-profits, municipalities, county, state, and federal governments, to create a thriving outdoor recreation and tourism economy, an economy that will be threatened by yet another hydroelectric power generation facility on this stretch of the river.

The river plays a considerable role in the outdoor economy of our region. Both Lancaster and York Counties benefit tremendously as outdoor enthusiasts from across the country and across our counties utilize the many outdoor assets and amenities of the natural landscape.

Based upon a recent economic impact report by the York County Economic Alliance, 5,240 York County residents work in the outdoor economy. These jobs generated $135 million in wages and are among the largest growth occupations; largely a result of outdoor amenities such as our river.

This project, if allowed to proceed, would destroy preserved farms, a regional scenic trail, the viewshed of a popular multimodal rail trail, and forested lands needed to help protect the ecological health of this landscape and an already impaired waterway. The proposed York Energy Storage LLC project would irrevocably damage the most pristine area of the lower Susquehanna. The impacted area is one of the last bits of unprotected nature left on the river, and we believe it is worth fighting for. Additionally, nearly forty families could be uprooted as a result of this project.

We believe that any net environmental benefits from additional low-carbon energy will be outweighed by the loss of trees and farmland. As part of its review, we argue that FERC should consider the disproportionate burden placed on the residents along the lower Susquehanna, as well as study the impact this proposed dam would have on the whole of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which already has multiple existing dams for hydroelectric power. This is significant as dams are actually being removed in the lower Susquehanna’s tributaries to improve water quality and improve aquatic habitats.

In 2023, Pennsylvania led the region in net exports of electricity. At +83 million megawatt hours, Pennsylvania is comfortably in first place in our 8-state region. We are doing more than our fair share of energy generation. 

Maryland, however, is a different story. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Maryland “consumes about five times more energy than it produces” and is taking additional power generation offline.

While Pennsylvania remains an energy leader in the region, we understand the need to continue to build our energy infrastructure to help meet the growing demand for electricity. Given this proposed project’s low power generation, the costs of this project would far outweigh the benefits.

We stand united in opposition to this project and York Energy Storage LLC’s application and urge FERC to respect the decades of hard work and millions of dollars of investment made to preserve our unique landscape, protect our natural resources, and grow a thriving outdoor tourism economy that will support our community for generations to come.

You can make your voice heard too. FERC is accepting public comment on York Energy Storage, LLC’s preliminary permit application until March 31, 2024. You can learn more about how to submit a comment by visiting FERC’s Office of Public Participation website:

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker represents Pennsylvania’s 11th District, which includes Lancaster and southern York counties. This letter was also signed by the following:

State Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill, 28th Legislative District

State Senator Mike Regan, 31st Legislative District

State Representative Joe D’Orsie, 47th Legislative District

State Representative Dawn Keefer, 92nd Legislative District

State Representative Mike Jones, 93rd Legislative District

State Representative Wendy Fink, 94th Legislative District

State Representative Carol Hill-Evans, 95th Legislative District

State Representative Kate Klunk, 169th Legislative District

State Representative Seth Grove, 196th Legislative District

President Commissioner Julie Wheeler, York County Board of Commissioners

Vice President Commissioner Scott Burford, York County Board of Commissioners

Commissioner Doug Hoke, York County Board of Commissioners

State Senator Ryan Aument, 36th District

State Senator Scott Martin, 13th District

State Senator Chris Gebhard, 48th District

State Representative Mindy Fee, 37th Legislative District

State Representative Brett Miller, 41st Legislative District

State Representative Keith Greiner, 43rd Legislative District

State Representative Mike Sturla, 96th Legislative District

State Representative Steve Mentzer, 97th Legislative District

State Representative Tom Jones, 98th Legislative District

State Representative David Zimmerman, 99th Legislative District

State Representative Bryan Cutler, 100th Legislative District

County Commissioner Josh Parsons, Chair of the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners

County Commissioner Ray, D’Agostino, Lancaster County Board of Commissioners

County Commissioner Alice Yoder, Lancaster County Board of Commissioners

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