Company
Snapshot

CONNECTICUT RIVER HYDROELECTRIC SYSTEM
 
 

 
AT A GLANCE

  • Six hydroelectric stations and eight associated dams and two storage reservoirs
  • 479 megawatts of clean electric power
  • Electricity sold into New England's competitive power market
  • Home to popular recreational and nature areas

 
 
 
   

 THE RIVER SYSTEM

For the better part of the 20th century, the Connecticut River hydroelectric system has been one of the largest renewable energy systems in New England. The system comprises six hydroelectric stations and associated dams. It spans 300 miles, from the Canadian border, at First and Second Connecticut Lakes, to Massachusetts. Its stations house 26 generating units, which are capable of producing 479 megawatts of clean, competitively priced electricity for the region. The stations with large storage reservoirs operate mainly during peak periods of electric demand, while the other stations operate subject to river conditions.

 THE FACILITIES

Bellows Falls development dates to 1791, when the Vermont legislature granted a charter for the construction of a navigation canal where the Connecticut River drops 300 feet through rugged ledges. Today's station was built in 1928 and uses water flowing through the original canal. The station contains three generating units capable of producing 49 megawatts. It is located in Bellows Falls, Vt.

Vernon Station straddles the Vermont/New Hampshire line three miles north of the Massachusetts state border. The facility contains eight turbines with a capacity of 24 megawatts. It was one of the earliest remote hydro stations to serve distant industrial centers, proving that electricity could be transmitted farther than believed possible at the time.

Wilder Station, with its 2,900-ft. long dam, was built in 1950 to replace a smaller facility built upstream in 1880. Today’s station contains three generators that, together, produce 42 megawatts of electric power. The facility sits on the Vermont/New Hampshire state line and is located in Wilder, Vt.

The Fifteen Mile Falls project, comprising the Comerford, McIndoes and Moore Stations, was developed decades ago to capture the power created by the sharp drop in the river. The falls that once vexed loggers attempting to send logs down river to mills in Massachusetts are now a valuable source of energy.

One of the biggest construction projects of its time, the 161-megawatt Comerford Station was completed in 1930. On its opening day, President Herbert Hoover, 700 miles away at the White House, pressed the button that started one of its four huge generators. The much smaller 13- megawatt McIndoes Station was completed a year later and serves primarily to smooth the uneven water flows produced by the much larger Comerford Station during power generation.

The 190-megawatt Moore Station and Dam, the largest conventional hydroelectric plant in New England, opened in 1957. The 3,490-acre storage reservoir created by the dam is one of the larger bodies of water in the North Country region and attracts visitors who want to avoid crowds and enjoy the remote lake.

In addition, for the hydro system's reduction of oil use over the past 10 years, it was honored with a 1999 Vermont Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence in Pollution Prevention

 LAND MANAGEMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

National Energy & Gas Transmission's New England affiliate owns 32,000 acres of land associated with hydro production in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. The majority of these lands are open to the public and the facilities are managed to ensure safe public access and the protection of wildlife resources.

Over the years, the Connecticut system has been recognized for land conservation efforts, which include tree farm maintenance, endangered species protection and safeguards for wildlife habitat. Three fish ladders are in operation at the Wilder, Bellows Falls and Vernon stations. Fish ladders help to restore anadromous fish (which can live in salt and fresh water) such as Atlantic Salmon, to the Connecticut River.

 RECREATION

Much of the land associated with the hydro facilities is open to the public. Every year, the Deerfield and Connecticut River systems host more than a half million visitors at their park lands and reservoirs. Trails for hiking and cross country skiing wind through the property, along with dozens of picnic areas. Twenty boat launches on both rivers encourage area residents and visitors to swim, boat and water-ski.

 OWNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT

The Connecticut River hydroelectric system is owned by an affiliate of National Energy & Gas Transmission, Inc.



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