LIHI Certificate #172 - Glens Falls Project, New York

The Glens Falls Project is located on the Hudson River in Warren and Saratoga Counties, New York. Originally constructed in 1906, the project is the tenth dam upstream of the mouth of the river. The Green Island Dam is the most downstream dam on the Hudson River and marks the upstream extent of the Hudson River’s 149-mile-long estuary. Several dams are located upstream and downstream of the project including several owned by the project owner. The South Glens Falls project, separately owned, is located adjacent to the project, constructed on the south end of the dam. The watershed area at the Project is 2,817 square miles.

The project includes a portion of seven, 7.5-foot tall by 57-foot long hydraulically operated steel crest gates anchored on a 5-foot-high concrete dam base. Water is conveyed to the powerhouse and to a paper mill via a 550-foot-long power canal. The powerhouse contains five horizonal Francis turbine generators with a combined capacity of 12.7 MW. A separate small dam and powerhouse located on the south side of the river is part of the unaffiliated South Glens Falls Project (FERC No. 5461). Generally, both FERC licensees have agreed to equally share inflow to the reservoir (50 percent split) when flows are less than 8,400 cfs.

The project operates in run-of-river mode and impounds a 167-acre reservoir. A Programmable Logic Controller monitors the headpond elevations and adjusts generation to maintain the water level and limit fluctuation. A continuous minimum flow of 5 cfs is provided into the bypassed reach to ensure the protection and enhancement of water quality and aquatic resources. This flow regime was developed in consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Waters within the project reach are designated Class B in the impoundment and Class C in the bypassed and downstream reaches. Class B waters are suitable for fishing, public swimming and other contact recreation activities. Class C water support fisheries and are suitable for non-contact activities. Generally, the Hudson River is impaired due to historical discharge of toxic compounds. The project impoundment is listed as impaired due to mercury contamination.

Project Name Glens Falls
LIHI Certificate No. 172
LIHI Certificate Term July 30, 2020 - July 29, 2025
Owner FH OPCO, LLC (a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Energy Group)
State New York
Location River Mile 200.7 on the Hudson River
Installed Capacity 12.7 MW
Average Annual Generation 56,150 MWh
Facility Type Run of river
FERC No. P-2385 issued in 2001, expires October 31, 2041

The Hudson River in the project area supports a mix of warm water and coldwater fish species. The most abundant species include rock bass, spottail shiner, and fallfish. Other species have been observed including crappie, Northern pike, rainbow trout, brook trout, rainbow smelt, channel catfish, blacknose dace, and Northern hogsucker. No anadromous fish species are found in the project reach as downstream barriers prevent migratory access. These include downstream dams without fish passage facilities as well as the natural falls - Hudson Falls and Glens Falls. American eel have been observed upstream of the project but only in very small numbers. Downstream passage is provided via an overflow weir that gradually transitions into a 24-inch diameter half circle pipe. A 25-cfs flow is provided in the downstream bypass chute. Trashracks with 1-inch clear spacing mitigate the potential for entrainment. These measures incorporated recommendations from USFWS to protect the fisheries in the project area.

The project lands consist of 50 acres. The shoreline of the impoundment is steep and densely forested with mature hardwood and shrub species. The rest of project lands lie mostly within industrial zones. Downstream of the dam there is a paper mill, wood lot, and steam plant. Adjacent to the project are a cement factory and wastewater treatment plant. Forest and brush cover provide a buffer between the industrial areas and the residential zones nearby. No lands of significant ecological value are found in the project area.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Indiana bat and peregrine falcon. No critical habitat for the bat species exists in the project area since the bat prefers caves and mines, of which there are none nearby. The peregrine falcon has had great success due to recovery efforts in the state. Project operations are not likely to impact the species as human disturbances include rock climbing and hiking near nesting sites, neither of which occurs at the project.

The Hudson River has historically been used to power mills for lumber, grain, and limestone operations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has determined that several properties in the project area are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. These include the Finch, Pruyn Hydroelectric Complex, a group of various mills consolidated for papermaking operations and electricity generation, as well as the Glens Falls Dam. A Historic Properties Management Plan was developed for the project in consultation with the SHPO to provide guidance and provisions for ensuring the protection of the historic resources in the project area. This includes provisions for recreational access, headgate reconstruction, and requirements for consulting with the SHPO if alteration to project facilities or operational changes are needed.

Recreational resources at the project include fishing and boating access, a canoe portage, parking, and a picnic area. The City of Glens Falls is located 4 miles south of the Adirondack State Park where recreational opportunities include flatwater boating, canoeing, whitewater rafting, hiking, skiing, fishing, camping, and other outdoor sports. Public access is provided free of charge at the project where safe to do so.


Certification History

November 20, 2020: The decision to certify the Glens Falls project became final after the close of the appeal period on November 19, 2020 with no appeals filed. The Certification term is from July 30, 2020 through July 29, 2025.

October 20, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification (pending LIHI #172) for the Glens Falls Hydroelectric Project located on the Hudson River in New York.

This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Glens Falls Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. All requests will be posted to the website. The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on November 19, 2020.

The full application and review report are available below. If no appeal requests are received the certification term will be July 30, 2020 through July 29, 2025.

August 3, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Glens Falls Hydroelectric Project. LIHI is seeking public comment on this application. Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook. The Project’s application materials can be found below.

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 “Glens Falls Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on October 2, 2020 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.