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
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.
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.