Andrew Blystra, PE

Consulting Engineer

Andrew has more than 30 years of experience permitting, designing, building and maintaining hydropower projects, including on USACE dams. He has licensed new build projects and re-licensed operating facilities, and implemented all license articles in each case. He also has significant experience with managing environmental impacts analysis and mitigation plans for hydro-power projects. He is a licensed professional engineer in 6 states.


BG (Ret’d) Robert Crear


Brigadier General (Retired) Robert Crear joined Rye’s management team in 2008 at Free Flow Power. He is the former Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Vicksburg District, Southwest Division, Mississippi Valley Division and President of the Mississippi River Commission, a Presidential appointment. He led the Corp’s infrastructure recovery and restoration efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and he was the commander of the task force to restore Iraq’s oil infrastructure in 2003. General Crear also served as Chief of Staff of the Corp’s headquarters in Washington, DC. He has a BS from Jackson State University and an MS from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Virgil Gray

Virgil Gray, PE, CCP

Vice President of Construction Management

With Rye, Virgil is responsible to manage all aspects of project execution, oversee the development and implementation of pre- and post- license project scheduling, cost forecasts, and procurement. Virgil has nearly 30 years of experience executing Engineer- ing, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) projects across hydro- power, power transmission and distribution, coal power, and infrastructure projects. He has a BS in Construction Management from the University of Maine, MS in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is a licensed Professional Engineering in five states, and is a Certified Cost Professional through AACEi.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob

Chief Executive Officer

Joining Rye’s predecessor, Free Flow Power as it pivoted to focus on conventional hydropower, Paul has been responsible for project and corporate development with a focus on commercial activities and governmental and stakeholder outreach. Previously, Paul spent 10 years with the Edison Mission Energy group, as President of Marketing and Trading, where he managed an $8 billion portfolio of wind, coal and natural gas fired generation. Prior to that, Paul spent nearly a decade with the Citizens Energy companies building an energy management and marketing venture and helping to define the structure of the electricity marketplace. Paul holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Ushakar Jha, PE

Ushakar Jha, PE

Director of Engineering

Ushakar has been a critical part of the conceptual design engineering, including cost estimation and generation modeling, of FFP New Hydro’s projects since 2011. Prior to joining Free Flow Power, Rye’s predecessor firm, Ushakar had more than 8 years of hydropower- specific engineering and construction experience on a wide range of hydropower projects from 5 MW to 500 MW at SNC Lavalin, where he managed a team working on civil design, structural design, hydraulic design, and due diligence, including the preparation of construction schedules. Ushakar has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Hydraulic Engineering, and an MBA from the Hult International Business School.

Mel Keleber, PE

Mel Keleber, PE

Vice President

Mel has more than 36 years of experience in hydropower project development, including planning, feasibility studies, licensing, design, construction, and operations, at locations world-wide. At Rye Development, Mel will be primarily involved in major equipment system procurement, design development and review, and working with the team to manage the technical review interface with the FERC, the USACE, and others, during the design and construction process. He holds a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Colorado.

Kristina Nygaard

Kristina Nygaard

Legal Consultant

Kris retired as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) lead attorney on its hydropower program. Her career at the FERC began in 1974 as a Trial Attorney in the FERC’s Office of General Counsel. From 1980 to 2004, Kris was personally involved in every significant legal and policy development in FERC hydro- power regulation. She supervised the drafting of virtually every hydropower order voted out by the Commission and appeared before Congressional committees, the US Circuit Courts of Appeals and conference audiences as FERC’s top legal expert on its hydropower program. Kris has a BA from Swarthmore College and a JD from Case Western Reserve University.

Erik Steimle, CEP

Erik Steimle, CEP

Vice President of Project Development

Erik is responsible for project development activities at Rye ranging from equipment procurement, consulting contracts, business development, and ensuring a predictable development process. Erik’s professional background includes more than 15 years of new hydropower development in the US and a consistent track record of project completion in difficult markets and regulatory environments. Erik was a Director at Symbiotics and then Riverbank Power from 2007-2012, managing the largest portfolio of IPP FERC Licenses on federal dams in the US. He has managed due diligence investigations for hydropower sales, acquisitions, and joint ventures in the US, Canada, and South America. Erik has a B.S. in Environmental Biology from Southern Oregon University.

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