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Pioneer Hydro Electric consists of two dams and a total of 5 turbines within ‘/4 mile of each other on the Ware River in Ware, Massachusetts. In 1995, Lucas, David, and Sarah Wright of Ware River Power, Inc. (WRP) purchased Pioneer Hydro out of bankruptcy. Since that time, the Wrights and WRP have devoted a vast amount of hard work, time, energy and capital to make Pioneer low impact on its surroundings. Ware River Power’s approach is one of restoration and conservation of existing structures and equipment rather than replacement. Numerous examples of the dedicated work towards minimal impact of the facility are documented in the Comments Attachment of the original LIHI application for certification which was approved in 2010.

Project Name Ware River
LIHI Certificate Number 47
LIHI Effective and
Expiration Dates
August 24, 2014
August 24, 2019
Owner Ware River Power, Inc.
State Massachusetts
Location Located on the Ware River in Massachusetts.
Installed Capacity 1,300 KW
Average Annual Generation 5,000,000 KWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. 3127

The facility is managed and owned by Lucas Wright who, as CEO of Ware River Power, Inc., has over 25 years of experience in hydropower. He resides 5.6 miles from the plant. Assistance is provided by Ware River Power’s staff of three employees. The facility consists of Ware Upper Dam which falls 34 feet, and Ware Lower Dam which falls 16 feet. Ware Upper Dam houses turbines 1, 2, 4, and 5. Ware Lower Dam houses turbine 3. Turbines 4 and 5 on the upper dam and turbine 3 on the lower dam are controlled automatically with direct pond leveling controls.

Since the initial LIHI certification and as a result of an agreement with Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, minimum stream flow at the facility has been voluntarily increased by Pioneer Hydro over and above the FERC required 20cfs to 26.8cfs. This represents a 34% increase and is a reflection of Pioneer Hydro having been granted 33.88% Mass. Class 1 REC’ s by the DOR. The increased minimum stream flow was achieved through significant alterations to the upper dam and flashboard structure in October of 2010 which increased the bypass weir width from 11.4 feet to 15.3 feet. (Please see December 2010 letters to FERC and LIHI below which reflect the agreement). Minimum stream flow is constantly and closely monitored by pond leveling sensors that control turbine actuation. In case of low pond level, an automatic dialer notifies operators via cell and pager communications of a low pond level scenario. If response is not delivered manually, the site trips offline before a violation of minimum stream flow occurs. The lower dam has no minimum stream flow, as its discharge is directly at the foot of the dam and it has no reach area. The lower dam is “run of river” at all times and has shutdown protection if water gets below dam crest.

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Certification History

December 14, 2015: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has certified that the Ware River Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-3127) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. A Preliminary Decision was announced on October 23, 2015, and a 30-day appeal period was open through November 23, 2015. No requests for appeal were received. This Certification Decision includes one facility-specific conditions, as follows:

  • The proposed modifications to the Lower Dam may be completed during the term of the new LIHI certification. Should this occur during the five-certification period as currently planned, the facility owner shall provide LIHI a copy of any License Exemption Amendment, along with resource agency comments and a schedule of the project’s planned initiation and completion dates, within 30 days of receipt of the Amendment. The results of any sampling or monitoring studies required by the Amendment or resource agencies shall be provided to LIHI within 60 days of results documentation. At that time, LIHI will review the new certification and make changes if appropriate.

The effective certification date for the Ware River Project is August 24, 2014 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on August 24, 2019.

January 1, 2015:   Executive Director Michael J. Sale issues a letter extending the Ware River Project certificate to March 31, 2015.

June 18, 2014: LIHI has received an application for a second term of certification of the Ware River Hydroelectric Project. The application materials can be found in the “Files” section below.

March 4, 2010: The Ware River Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective August 24, 2009 and expiring August 24, 2014.

January 5, 2010: After much discussion between Ware River Hydro, Inc. and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game concerning a possible resolution based on increasing minimum stream flow, the details of this potential agreement can be read below, in a letter from Lucas Wright to LIHI, dated December 10, 2009. (See file: Flow Resolution Ware River 12-10-09.pdf)

October 23, 2009: LIHI received a comment letter in opposition to certification from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. [1]

August 24, 2009: Ware River Hydro, Inc. has submitted an application for certification of the Pioneer Hydroelectric Company Project located on the Ware River in Ware, Massachusetts. A public comment period will remain open for 60 days, until October 24, 2009.

 


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