“We do recognize that (hydropower) is probably going to play some role in the transition. It’s certainly better than coal,” said Ted Illston of American Rivers, which has advocated for dam removals on environmental grounds.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, eight locks and dams that for decades helped barges move goods along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers will in a few years also generate enough power for 75,000 homes, AP reports.

Rye Development, a Boston-based hydropower company, is retrofitting the dams with turbines to generate electricity and says the upgraded structures will limit damage to the rivers’ water quality and fish.

The project reflects a recent thawing between the industry and conservation groups, which had long opposed dams that can prevent fish migration, alter water temperatures and cause other environmental problems. As the U.S. pushes to transition to low-carbon energy, Rye is among the companies that sees an opportunity to expand hydropower production at existing dams while working to minimize environmental harms.

The recent compromises between the industry and environmental groups are reflected in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, which puts $2.5 billion toward projects including dam removals as well as upgrades at existing structures for hydropower and energy storage.

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