US Report Okays New Hydro Plants On West River

01/05/12 5:50PM By Susan Keese

(Host) A plan to generate hydroelectric power from two southern Vermont flood control dams has moved closer to fruition.

In December, Blue Heron Hydro of Plainfield, received a favorable environmental assessment from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Lori Barg, a spokesman for the hydro group, says the finding clears the way for final permitting from the federal agency.

The group hopes to install generators at Army Corps of Engineers dams on the West River in Townshend and Jamaica.

Barg says the projects are the first new river-based hydro facilities permitted by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in over two decades.

Barg says this particular technology requires little onsite construction. It involves lowering two sets of six turbines at each dam.

(Barg) "We're lowering two six packs under the upstream side of the existing control tower. So they're submerged in the reservoir, you won't even know they're there. And they can be pulled out of the way whenever the Army Corps of Engineers needs them out of the way."

(Host) The two projects combined would generate about three megawatts of power.

Central Vermont Public Service says the projects will help meet growing power demands along the 66 mile Southern Loop between Bennington and Brattleboro.

The utility's Steve Costello says CVPS has a multipronged strategy to avoid building new transmission lines - an unpopular solution.

Costello says the plan includes small-scale generation and some new infrastructure.

(Costello) "But the generation is important. It can provide energy closer to the need so it doesn't have to be moved as far on the system and for that reason, as part of that broader solution to our southern loop issue, we were very supportive of these two projects."

(Host) The Townshend and Jamaica projects need to be online by 2013 to meet requirements for state and federal incentive programs.

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