Gardner Falls Dam

Gardner Falls Dam

The Gardners Falls project, licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) as Project No. 2234, is owned by North American Energy Alliance, LLC (“NAEA”).

Project Name Gardners Falls
LIHI Certificate Number 80
LIHI Effective and
Expiration Dates
February 18, 2011
February 18, 2016
(extended to November 30, 2017)
Owner North American Energy Alliance, LLC
State Massachusetts
Location Located at approximate river mile 15.8 on the Deerfield River, in the towns of Buckland and Shelburne in Franklin County, Massachusetts.
Installed Capacity 3,580 KW
Average Annual Generation 14,400 MWh
Facility Type Limited pond-and-release mode
FERC No. 2234

The project is located in the Towns of Buckland and Shelburne in Franklin County, Massachusetts, at approximate river mile 15.8 on the Deerfield River.  The Project was originally constructed in 1904.  The original project included two hydro-electric turbines.  The powerhouse was expanded in 1914 with the installation of two more turbines, followed by a final expansion in 1924 with the addition of a fifth turbine.  One of the original turbines (“Unit 1”) was retired in 1971.  The Unit 1 penstock was plugged and filled in when the unit was removed from service. Currently, the Project is semi-automated and contains four active units.

The major project works consist of a dam and impoundment, a power canal, an intake structure and a powerhouse.  Specifically, the Project consists of:  (1) a concrete gravity dam, 337 feet long with a maximum height of 30 feet at permanent crest elevation 332.79 feet mean sea level (msl) and flashboard elevation 334.79 feet msl, (2) an impoundment 3,200 feet long, with a surface area of 21 acres, 190 acre-feet gross storage and 37.2 acre-feet usable storage, (3) a brick and concrete powerhouse equipped with four turbine-generator units with total capacity 3.58 MW, (4) a 1,300-foot power canal 31 feet wide and 15 feet deep, and (5) a double circuit 13.8 KV transmission line connecting the Gardners Falls project to the Montague substation.

The impoundment upstream of the Facility is small, consisting of 190 acre-feet of gross storage, 37.2 acre-feet of useable storage, and 21 acres of surface area.

While the Project operates as a limited pond-and-release mode, several of the upstream hydroelectric facilities on the Deerfield River are operated primarily during the daily peak demand periods.  Flows into the Gardners Falls project, which is located between Deerfield Developments 3 and 2, are dependent upon flow releases from TransCanada’s upstream projects.  The Gardners Falls project is operated in a limited pond-and-release mode, utilizing the small storage capacity (37.2 acre-feet) afforded by a maximum 1.8–foot drawdown to accommodate the flows caused by the upstream peaking operations.

The Gardners Falls project is situated among nine other hydroelectric facilities located on the Deerfield River.  All of the other nine facilities are owned and operated by an affiliate of TransCanada Corporation, and eight are licensed as one project (“Deerfield River Project,” FERC No. 2323).  The Deerfield River Project consists of one storage facility (Somerset Development) and seven hydroelectric facilities (Searsburg, Harriman, and Sherman Developments, and the Deerfield No. 5, No. 4, No. 3 and No. 2 Developments).  A pumped-storage project (Bear Swamp Project), owned by Bear Swamp Power Company, LLC and operated by Brookfield Renewable Power, is licensed by the FERC as Project No. 2669 and is located below the Deerfield No. 5 development.  The Deerfield River Project (FERC No. 2323) also underwent FERC relicensing at the same time as the GardnersFalls project.

Unit intake house

Unit intake house

Brook crossing scenic trail

Brook crossing scenic trail

Certification History

November 7, 2017:  LIHI has issued a Preliminary Certification Decision that the Gardners Falls Hydroelectric Project continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. The Certification includes three facility-specific conditions, as follows:

  • Condition 1. The Owner shall complete a review of historic resources that may be affected by the
    proposed repair to the facility’s powerhouse, pursuant to section 106 of the National Historic
    Preservation Act. The Owner shall notify LIHI of any recommendations or agreements within 30
    days of the completion of the SHPO’s review or signed agreements.
  • Condition 2. For the term of this new LIHI certification, the Owner shall continue the current
    operations that provide a 150-cfs minimum flow to the bypassed reach via a combination of
    releases from the fish passage gate and from spillage over the dam. If any changes are proposed in
    these releases during the term of this certification, the Owner shall coordinate with appropriate
    fisheries management agencies in designing these changes and then notify LIHI no less than 60
    days before a change is implemented. A detailed operational plan for the new flow regime shall
    be provided to LIHI at the time of notification, if changes are to occur.
  • Condition 3. The Owner shall make all currently needed repairs to recreation facilities and
    amenities prior to the summer 2018 recreation season or within 60 days of completion of the
    current construction project, and provide LIHI with an update on the status of those repairs in the
    2018 annual compliance statement and in the 2019 compliance statement if constructions remains
    in progress in February 2018.

The LIHI Handbook states that all decisions are subject to a 30-day appeal window. Only parties that submitted comments during the 60-day public review period for the project application have standing to appeal. Any appeal request must include specific reasons why the appellant believes the hydropower facility does not meet one or more criteria.

Appeal requests may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Gardners Falls Hydroelectric Project Appeal Request” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 2, Lexington, MA 02420. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on December 5, 2017 to be considered. More details on the appeal process can be found in our Handbook available HERE.

If no appeal is requested within the 30-day period, on December 7th, 2017 at 5:00pm EST, the Executive Director will issue the final certification for the facility and post a notification of certification on the LIHI website. Once final, the effective certification date for the Gardners Falls Hydroelectric Project is retroactive to the prior certificate’s expiration date of February 18, 2016 extending for a five (5) year term which will expire on February 18, 2021.

June 13, 2017 – The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Gardners Falls Hydroelectric Project. The Gardners Falls Hydroelectric Project is located in the towns of Buckland and Shelburne, Franklin County, Massachusetts, on the Deerfield River. The 2017 application materials can be found below.

LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Gardners Falls project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook released in March 2016.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s 2017 application materials posted on the project page.

Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered.  Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Gardners Falls Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 2, Lexington, MA 02420.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on August 13, 2017 to be considered.  All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.  Any response will also be posted.

March 1, 2017: The Gardners Falls Hydroelectric Project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is November 30, 2017. See the extension letter for explanation below.

June 30, 2016:  The Gardners Falls Project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term.  The new expiration date is April 20, 2017.  See extension letter below.

December 22, 2015: The Gardners Falls Project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is August 16, 2016. See the extension letter for explanation below.

October 31, 2011: The Gardners Falls Hydroelectric project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective February 18, 2011 and expiring February 18, 2016.

May 11, 2011: LIHI received NAEA’s response to comments (via email).

April 28, 2011: LIHI received comments (via email) from Robert May of the Deerfield River Watershed Association.

April 25, 2011: LIHI received NAEA’s response to the following comment letters:

  • From the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, dated April 5, 2011 (in the Files section below)
  • From the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, dated April 19, 2011 (in the Files section below)
  • From the Connecticut River Watershed Council, dated April 18, 2011 (in the Files section below)
  • Two from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, dated March 21, 2011 and April 13, 2011
  • Email from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, dated March 12, 2011

April 18, 2011: Public comment period on application has been closed.

February 18, 2011: The North American Energy Alliance (NAEA) has submitted an application for the certification of the Gardners Falls Hydroelectric Project. Public comment period for the application will stay open for 60 days.

Powerhouse - view 1

Powerhouse – view 1

 

Powerhouse 2

Powerhouse – view 2

 

walkway and minimum flow gate (1)

Walkway and minimum flow gate

 

walkway at dam with fish louver attached

Walkway at dam with fish louver attached

 

 

Power Canal

Power Canal

 


Files:

2011 Certification