LIHI Certificate #123 – Stevens Mill Project, New Hampshire

The Stevens Mill Project is located on the Winnipesaukee River in the city of Franklin, New Hampshire. The project is roughly a mile upstream of the Winnipesaukee River’s confluence with the Pemigewasset River, which meet to form the Merrimack River. The Merrimack River flows through southern New Hampshire, northeastern Massachusetts, and into the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport, Massachusetts. The site was originally developed in the early 1900s by the M.T. Stevens Company, a manufacturer of woolen dress goods. The origins of the company can be traced to J.P. Stevens and Company, which was founded in 1813 in North Andover, Massachusetts by Captain Nathaniel Stevens and produced woolen broadcloth in 1813. In 1901, Moses T. Stevens incorporated the company, constructed the Stevens Mill Complex and associated hydroelectric facilities, and changed the company name to M.T. Stevens Company. Dams upstream of the project include the Lakeport Dam, Avery Dam, Lochmere Dam, and Clement Dam (LIHI #117). The only downstream dam on the Winnipesaukee River is Franklin Falls Dam.

The project dam is a concrete gravity structure approximately 80 feet long and 22 feet high. It is equipped with a 3-foot-high Obermeyer inflatable crest gate, which was installed in 2008. The project includes two generating units located in separate powerhouses. A 150-foot long penstock connects the dam to the Bow Street powerhouse and a 740-foot long penstock running underneath Canal Street connects the dam to the Riverbend powerhouse. Turbine Unit 1 (236 kW) is located on the north side of the river immediately across from the Stevens Mill Building No. 1 (Bow Street). Unit 1 is a Flygt submersible turbine that was installed in 1985; it is used to maintain conservation flows in the reach of river bypassed by the Riverbend station. A former second unit was installed in 1990 and later removed in 1996. Unit 3 (1,700 kW) is located approximately 900 feet southwest of the dam and adjacent to Stevens Mill Building No. 2 (Riverbend).

The project operates in a run-of-river mode and impounds a one-acre reservoir. The project provides a minimum flow of 100 cfs into the 0.75-mile-long bypassed reach created by the River Bend penstock tap at the dam. This flow regime was developed in consultation with US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New Hampshire Fish and Game (NHFG).

Project Name  Stevens Mill
LIHI Certificate No. 123
LIHI Certificate Term March 5, 2020 - March 4, 2030
Owner Franklin Power, LLC, a subsidiary of Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC
State New Hampshire
Location Located at river mile 9 on the Winnipesaukee River in New Hampshire.
Installed Capacity Total: 1.936 MW Bow Street: 0.236 MW River Bend: 1.7 MW
Average Annual Generation Total: 4,721 MWh Bow Street: 1,182 MWh River Bend: 3,539 MWh
Facility Type  Run-of-river
FERC No.  P-3760, exempt 1983

Waters within the project reach are designated Class B, suitable for fishing, primary contact recreation, and water supply after treatment. The river reach is not listed as impaired. Water quality monitoring was conducted in 2016. Results were reviewed by New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) which concluded that the project waters meet state water quality standards.

Historically, the Winnipesaukee River has supported migratory fish species including American shad, river herring, Atlantic salmon, and American eel. In 1847, the Essex Dam in Lawrence, Massachusetts was constructed which blocked anadromous fish runs to upstream habitat in the basin. The Lawrence project (LIHI #121), as well as several dams continuing upstream, have since implemented fish passage facilities. The Hooksett project (LIHI #162) is the next upstream development on the Merrimack that has fish passage prescriptions with installation expected in 2021. The downstream Franklin Falls project on the Winnipesaukee River does not currently have fish passage facilities for anadromous species.

Downstream fish passage was installed at the project in 2016. The facilities, supported by USFWS, NHFG, and NHDES, include 0.75-inch exclusionary trashrack overlay panels at the Unit 1 intake (Bow Street), blocking racks perpendicular to flow at the Unit 3 intake (Riverbend), modifications to the existing sluice gate, and a new plunge pool and conveyance channel.

The project lands consist of nine acres located in downtown Franklin, a developed urban area in an industrialized zone. The majority of the stream bank in the project area is comprised of buildings and parking areas. The Upper Merrimack River, including the section of the Winnipesaukee River in Franklin, is designated a state-protection river under the NH Rivers Management and Protection Program. Proposed development activities and any actions requiring a state permit such as dredge and fill permits that would be needed for forebay dredging, are subject to review by the Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee guided by the Upper Merrimack Management and Implementation Plan. This protection status also provides development and use restrictions within a 250-foot buffer from the river’s edge in accordance with the NH Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Northern long-eared bat and common nighthawk. No critical habitat for the bat species exists in the project area and there have been no documented observations of any individuals in the area. The project owner has committed to adhering to the USFWS 4(d) rule concerning protection of any potential roosting habitat for the species. The common nighthawk often nests on flat gravel rooftops and is unlikely to be affected by project operations.

The Franklin Falls Historic District includes the project area, dam, and structures and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. During the initial rehabilitation of the project, the owner consulted with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to determine any project impacts on cultural resources in the area. The SHPO concluded that no adverse impact would occur based on the proposed rehabilitation plans. Similar consultation and conclusions occurred when the project installed downstream passage facilities.

Formal recreation facilities do not exist in the project area due to the developed nature of the shoreline and the rocky river reach. Two city owned parks are located near the project. Trestle View Park is located upstream of the project and includes a portage for kayakers and fishing access. Odell Park is located along the bypassed reach and includes a playground, playing fields, and picnic areas. Several trails run along the south side of the bypassed reach and upstream of the dam. Public access is provided free of charge where safety concerns do not preclude access.


Compliance Status

The Certificate includes the following facility-specific conditions:

  • Condition 1:The facility Owner shall report in its annual compliance submittals to LIHI, on any changes or amendments to the MOA, any changes in requirements under the MOA, or if modifications have been made to the Operations and Flow Monitoring Plan. If any changes were made, the facility owner will provide a brief summary of those changes.
  • Condition 2:The facility Owner shall conduct forebay dredging in 2020 if site conditions allow, or as soon as conditions do allow. The Owner shall continue to consult with resource agencies on downstream passage in accordance with the MOA and shall notify LIHI of any changes in downstream passage measures in annual compliance submittals.

2021: For Condition 1, the project reported ongoing collaboration with USFWS to review the MOA, the monitoring plan, and any needed mitigation measures. For Condition 2, the project reported on an application to renew the dredge permit since 2020 dredging was delayed but expected to be completed in 2021. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.

2020: Annual reporting for the current Certificate has not yet taken effect.


Certification History

September 14, 2020: The decision to recertify the Stevens Mill Project became final after the close of the appeals period on August 30, 2020 with no appeals filed. The Certification term is from March 5, 2020 – March 4, 2025.

July 31, 2020:The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the Stevens Mill Project (LIHI #123) for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification.

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 “Stevens Mill 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 August 30, 2020. The full application and reviewer’s report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be March 5, 2020 through March 4, 2025.

May 12, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact recertification of the Stevens Mill Hydroelectric Project.   The complete application can be found below.

LIHI is seeking public comment on this application. 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 “Stevens Mill 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 July 11, 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.

July 27, 2015: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board and a full review of the Application Reviewer’s report and all public comments and additional materials provided by the Applicant, has determined that the Stevens Mill Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 3760) satisfies the LIHI Certification Criteria. The effective certification date for the Stevens Mill Project is March 5, 2015 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on March 5, 2020, with the following conditions:

  • Condition satisfied in 2017. Condition 1. The facility owner shall comply with Section 4.1 of the August 14, 2014, Memorandum of Agreement by implementing appropriately protective bypass conservation flows immediately upon approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game. Since this certification is being granted without the minimum bypass flow having been deemed appropriately protective by the resource agencies, LIHI may withdraw certification if it determines that the facility owner is failing to make a good faith effort to cooperate with the resource agencies in determining a final minimum bypass flow. The owner shall provide LIHI with monthly status updates until this issue is resolved.
  • Condition satisfied in 2019. Condition 2. The facility owner shall develop a system for producing and maintaining records sufficient to demonstrate compliance with the headpond elevation and flow management limitations for an instantaneous run-of-river operation and bypass conservation flows, including flows as necessary to operate fish passage measures. The facility owner shall comply with Section 4.2 of the August 14, 2014, Memorandum of Agreement. Within three months of the date of issuance of the certification, the facility owner shall provide LIHI with a copy of the operations and flow monitoring plan. Prior to filing the plan, the facility owner shall obtain plan approval from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services; written confirmation of the approvals will be filed with the plan. The plan shall be updated as necessary to reflect any future changes in minimum bypass flows and flow releases for fish passage operation.
  • See 2020 Conditions. Condition  3. Modified 2017:  a) The facility owner shall continue to notify LIHI within 30 days if changes in the downstream fish passage are made. b) During the term of this certification, should a resource agency request implementation of upstream passage at the facility, the owner shall notify LIHI within 30 days and provide LIHI with a copy of the request and its response.
  • Condition satisfied in 2018. Condition 4. To enable NHDES to make a determination of Project compliance with New Hampshire quantitative water quality standards, the facility owner shall complete water quality sampling during summer 2015 following a study plan approved by NHDES. By December 31, 2015, the facility owner shall provide LIHI with a letter from NHDES documenting NHDES’s review and conclusions. If NHDES determines that structural or operational changes are necessary to meet water quality standards, the facility owner will provide LIHI with a proposed implementation schedule at the same time it files the NHDES letter.
  • See 2020 Conditions. Condition 5. Modified 2017: The facility Owner shall report in its annual compliance statement, whether or not any changes or amendments were made in the MOA. If changes were made, the facility owner will provide a brief summary of those changes. The MOA shall be extended, by mutual agreement, in accordance with Section 1.1 of the MOA to keep it in effect throughout the term of the LIHI certification of this facility. Under the unlikely scenario of the US Fish and Wildlife Service having no interest in extending the MOA, the facility owner shall continue to operate Stevens Mill in accordance with the most recent version of the Plans required by the MOA.

March 11, 2015: On March 5, 2015, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) received a complete application from Eagle Creek Renewable Energy for the Low Impact Certification of the Stevens Mill Project, FERC P-3760-007, located on the Winnipesauki River in New Hampshire.