ater is a powerful force and so is your voice. Use the power of your words to protect your rivers.
The water that flows and the fish that live in the Connecticut River and its tributaries are yours to enjoy and protect, as part of our public trust. As stewards of your rivers, it is important for your voice to be heard.
You have a say in how hydroelectric facilities will be operated and how their negative impacts on the river can be improved and renewable energy made more sustainable. The Power of Water / Power of Words project is gathering 1,000 stories from people all along the Connecticut River to influence state and federal decision-makers to ensure the terms of new hydroelectric operating licenses are more river friendly.
You can speak up for your rivers by sharing your river story and your wishes and desires for your river. Click on “Tell Your Story” and let the world know how you feel about the Connecticut River and what you want for the River’s future!
Right now, the federal and state licenses for five hydroelectric facilities located between Turners Falls, MA and Wilder, VT are being reviewed in preparation of new licenses to be issued in 2022. The current licenses are out-of-date and the new licenses will endure for the next 30 to 50-years and affect 175 miles of your river for the next generation. It is critical that we all speak up for rivers NOW in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence these operating licenses.
Hydroelectric facilities generate renewable, very-low carbon energy and are an important part of New England’s energy supply. But these facilities also significantly harm river ecosystems and the many critters that live in and around our rivers. With your help these harms can be reduced while not impacting this important source of electricity.
Where are these facilities and how do they work?
Four of these projects (Wilder, VT; Bellows Falls, VT; Vernon, VT; and Turners Falls, MA) are dams on the Connecticut River that hold back water and release it through turbines inside the dam. Turners Falls dam is the oldest, first constructed in 1798! The fifth project, Northfield Mountain Pump Storage Facility located in Northfield, MA, generates electricity by releasing water from a reservoir at the top of the mountain and letting it pass through turbines. The reservoir is filled up using the same pipe when the turbines are reversed and water is taken from the river. Pump storage facilities are important as “batteries” for electricity generated during low-demand times such as from windfarms at night. But they are net energy consumers as it takes more energy to pump water uphill than is generated by the reservoir release.
Since late 2012, these five hydroelectric facilities in the heart of the Connecticut River have been going through relicensing – the formal process of renewing their operating licenses. Once renewed, these licenses will endure for the next 30-50 years and impact more than 175 miles of the Connecticut River.
The three dams at Wilder, Bellows Falls and Vernon in New Hampshire and Vermont are owned by Great River Hydro (formerly TransCanada), a subsidiary of ArcLight Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Boston. The two Massachusetts facilities, Turners Falls Dam and Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project, are now separate LLCs under FirstLight Power Services LLC, owned by PSP Investments, one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last issued licenses for these facilities over forty years ago and all licenses initially expired in April, 2018.
Connecticut River Conservancy is working with Art for Water to gather personal narratives about New England’s longest river. Individual voices will join hundreds of others of all ages to have a direct influence on state and federal decision makers.
This project, which ran for several years at the beginning of the relicensing process, collected over 650 written contributions by people of all ages, which resulted in three interactive installations in Montpelier and Brattleboro, VT and Montague, MA. Those two years of work built a broad base of public engagement and created an inspiring and influential piece of public art. The administrative process is now at a point where broad-based public engagement will have direct impact on state decision makers. Given current limitations on public gatherings, the face-to-face outreach is expanded with this website to continue to collect personal stories about your River.