LIHI Certificate #133 – Byron Weston No. 2 Project, Massachusetts

The Byron Weston Project is located at the Bryon Weston Dam No. 2 in Dalton, Massachusetts on the East Branch of the Housatonic River. The development is located upstream from the East Branch confluence with the main Housatonic River. The Byron Weston Dam No. 2 hydroelectric project is constructed on a dam built in 1887. The project is located downstream of the Byron Weston Dam No. 1 and upstream of the Upper Pioneer Dam and Government Dam Project.

The project includes Byron Weston Dam No. 2, spillway, inside mill headrace canal, powerhouse, penstock, and a bypass reach.

The project was built on the existing 30-foot-high, 90-foot-long, stone-masonry Byron Weston Dam No. 2. A 23-foot-high, 75-foot-long spillway comprises the majority of the dam. The intake structure is equipped with trashracks and a headgate. Water passes through the headgate to a 50-foot-long, 9.5-foot-wide headrace canal which conveys flows to a 15-foot-long, 4.4-foot-diameter penstock leading to a vertical Kaplan turbine-generating unit within the Byron Weston Defiance Mill. A 12-inch low-level outlet pipe diverts flow from the headrace during times when the turbine is out of service. A bypass reach approximately 35 feet long is configured to create a backwater at the toe of the spillway.

The project operates in run-of-river mode year-round and impounds a 0.94-acre reservoir. The flow regime was developed in consultation with Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW), USFWS, and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Project operations are coordinated with downstream hydroelectric plants.

Project Name Byron Weston No. 2
LIHI Certificate No. 133
LIHI Certificate Term December 29, 2016 - December 29, 2021
Owner Crane & Company
State Massachusetts
Location East Branch of the Housatonic River in Dalton, MA
Installed Capacity 0.250 MW
Average Annual Generation 938 MWh
Facility Type Run of River
FERC No. P-13583 exempt 2012

Waters within the project reach are designated Class B and are impaired for PCBs and fecal coliform. The source of the bacterial presence is unknown but is likely from stormwater runoff. PCB discharges have been traced to General Electric facilities downstream and a PCB cleanup project is ongoing. Water quality studies were conducted by the project owner’s engineering firm to ensure compliance with Class B water quality standards.

No diadromous fish species are present in the project vicinity. Consultation with MDFW indicates that while a migratory fish restoration plan is underway for American eel, American shad, and river herring in the Connecticut portion of the river, the plan is not currently extending to the Massachusetts portion. Upstream and downstream passage is not required for the project, but agencies may prescribe passage in the future. Trashracks with 1-inch spacing and an approach velocity that is less than or equal to 2 feet per second mitigate entrainment of riverine species.

The project property consists of 3.5 acres. No buffer zone exists within the project boundary. The surrounding area is developed on one side of the project and heavily wooded with steep slopes on the other side of the project. The local Dalton Conservation Commission is responsible for administering and enforcing the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, which protects surface and ground water, prevents flooding/storm damage, and protects wetland dependent wildlife and their habitat.

Threatened and endangered species potentially within the project property include: Northern long-eared bat. There are no critical habitats designated for this species. The USFWS 4d Rule concerning the protection of the northern long-eared bat focuses on minimizing tree cutting in or near critical forest habitat and preventing the spread of white-nose syndrome. No resource agencies have raised concerns that project operations impact the Northern long-eared bat or its habitat.

Historic properties in the project area include the Byron Weston Defiance Mill building and a refurbished McCormick Hercules wheel turbine. The turbine has been refurbished and displayed outside the Crane Museum of Papermaking. The Massachusetts Historical Commission recommended consultation with the Dalton Historical Commission during FERC licensing. The DHC supports the project and indicated that the Byron Weston Defiance Mill is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Due to the small footprint of the project and the steep slopes surrounding the project, no formal recreation facilities are available at the project. Public access is not safe near the project and thus not required. However, the Appalachian Trail passes through the town of Dalton near the project.


Certification History

June 21, 2017: Having received no requests to appeal the preliminary decision to certify the Byron Weston No. 2 Hydroelectric Project, final certification was issued on May 8, 2017. The certification includes the following condition:

  • Condition satisfied in 2017. Condition 1. The owner shall complete the Wheel Turbine Relocation Plan and notice FERC and LIHI of that action within 90 days after LIHI certification.

April 5, 2017: On April 4, 2017, LIHI Executive Director Shannon Ames announced a Preliminary Certification Decision that the Byron Weston No. 2 Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 13583) satisfies the LIHI Certification Criteria.

This application was processed under the 2014 edition of the LIHI Handbook because the application materials were received prior to 2016. As provided for in Section 2.14 of the LIHI 2014 Edition Handbook, the Preliminary Certification Decision, along with the Application Reviewer’s report and (if prepared) report of the Executive Director, will be posted on the Institute’s web page for 30 days. Notice of the posting will be provided to all individuals or organizations that commented on the initial Application Package.

Any Commenter may submit a letter to the Executive Director requesting an appeal within the 30-day period beginning April 6, 2017 and ending on May 8, 2017.  The appeal request must state specific reasons why the hydropower facility should have failed one or more criteria.  If an individual or organization did not comment on the initial Application Package, they may not file an appeal.  Further information about the LIHI appeal process is available in the LIHI Handbook, available HERE.

If no appeal is requested within the 30-day period, the Executive Director will issue LIHI Certification for the facility and post a notification of certification on the Institute’s website.  Once final, the effective certification date for the Byron Weston Project is December 29, 2016 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on December 29, 2021.

January 26, 2017: On December 29, 2016, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) received a complete application from Crane and Company (Crane) for the Low Impact Certification of the Byron Weston No. 2 project, FERC No. 13583, located on the East Branch of the Housatonic River in Dalton, Massachusetts – 7.97 miles upstream from the E. Branch/Main St. confluence at Fred Gardner Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

LIHI is seeking public comment on this application. Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Byron Weston project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria. The Byron Weston application is subject to review using the Criteria in the LIHI Certification Handbook of 2014.

Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s 2014 Handbook and then review the Project’s 2016 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 “Byron Weston Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, PO Box 194, Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640. The 60 day public comment period begins on January 26, 2017.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on March 27, 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.