LIHI Certificate #150 – Eastman Falls Project, New Hampshire

The Eastman Falls Project is located in central New Hampshire in Merrimack and Belknap Counties, in the city of Franklin and towns of Hill, Sanbornton, and New Hampton. The project is located on the Pemigewasset River about one mile upstream of its confluence with the Winnipesaukee River which forms the headwaters of the Merrimack River. The project was originally constructed by the Pemigewasset Power Company in 1903, redeveloped by the Boston and Maine Railroad in 1910-1911, and further redeveloped by Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) in 1937 and 1983. The project is now owned by Central Rivers Power NH, LLC.

The Project includes: a dam, spillway, spillway waste gate, and two single unit powerhouses.

The ogee spillway is made of concrete and is approximately 341 feet long with a maximum height of 37 feet. Six-foot-high steel flashboards top the spillway and are supported by timber struts on the downstream side. A cable car system spans the spillway and allows for strut removal to lower the flashboards in the event that spillway capacity needs to be increased for high flow events. The two powerhouses are located on the west bank of the river. The Unit No.1 powerhouse was built in 1937 and contains a single vertical-type turbine. The Unit No. 2 powerhouse was originally constructed in about 1910 and was retrofitted with a new Kaplan horizontal-type turbine generator in 1983. Total installed capacity is 6.4 MW. The project operates in a run-of-river mode and impounds a 582-acre reservoir. Impoundment fluctuations do not exceed 0.2 feet from the normal impoundment elevation with flashboards installed. This flow regime was developed in consultation with USFWS, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department in order to protect the flora and fauna in the littoral and riparian zones of the impoundment.

Project Name Eastman Falls
LIHI Certificate No. 150
LIHI Certificate Term February 13, 2019 – February 12, 2024
Owner Central Rivers Power NH Eastman Falls, LLC
State New Hampshire
Location River mile 1 on the Pemigewasset River
Installed Capacity 6.4 MW
Average Annual Generation 27,871 MWh
Facility Type Run of river
FERC No. P-2457 issued 2017, expires 2047

Waters in the project area are designated Class B, managed for suitable aquatic habitat and primary contact recreation. The waters are not listed for any impairments and NHDES has confirmed that the project does not have any adverse impact on water quality.

The only migratory species present in the Pemigewasset River at the project area is American eel. After USFWS decided to end Atlantic salmon restocking programs, passage measures are only needed for American eel. In 2017, USFWS provided prescriptions for upstream and downstream American eel passage at the project. USFWS and NHDES are currently consulting with the project owner to develop plans for passage. Interim facilities are in place and permanent facilities will be constructed by 2025. Resident fish species include brown bullhead, blacknose dace, burbot, creek chub, white sucker, brook trout, fallfish, golden shiner, largemouth bass, longnose sucker, longnose dace, and slimy sculpin.

The project lands consist of 457 acres. There are no lands of significant ecological value in the project reach and most surrounding lands are managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Franklin Falls flood control dam. An invasive species management and monitoring plan has been implemented for control of species including Japanese knotweed, Purple loosestrife, and autumn olive.

Threatened and endangered species potentially within the project vicinity include the Northern long-eared bat and Brook floater. While northern long-eared bat habitat is present in the project reach, the bats themselves have not been known to inhabit the project area. The brook floater, a freshwater riverine mussel species, has been observed downstream of the project but the run-of-river operations of the project do not adversely impact these populations.

The area between the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee Rivers were occupied by the Algonquin tribe. Historic resources found within the project vicinity include trails, campsites, and tools of the Algonquin. Additional resources include the Daniel Webster family home site, Sulphite Bridge, Franklin Falls Historic District, and the Rumford House; all outside of the project reach. Project facilities including the dam are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. No adverse effects from the project on historic resources have occurred and any activities with the potential to do so require consultation with the New Hampshire State Historic Preservation Office.

Recreational resources at the project include the Eastman Falls recreation area (picnic area and boat launch), parking, fishing access, a portage trail, and the Franklin Public Boat Ramp which is operated by the city of Franklin. Public access is provided free of charge.


Certification History

June 3, 2019: The decision to certify the Eastman Falls Hydroelectric Project is final. No appeals were received during the appeal period which closed on May 31, 2019. The certification term for the Project is February 13, 2019 through February 12, 2024. There are two conditions on the Certificate:

  • Condition 1: The Facility Owner shall provide NHDES’s review comments on the Operation Compliance Monitoring and Maintenance Plan to LIHI within 60 days of its receipt. If the review defines any outstanding issues, the Facility Owner shall provide updates in their annual compliance submittal to LIHI summarizing progress made toward final approval of the plan by NHDES and FERC.
  • Condition 2: The Facility Owner shall provide updates in their annual compliance submittal to LIHI summarizing progress made toward completion of upstream and downstream passage for American eel until all required improvements have been made and approved by FERC.

May 1, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Eastman Falls Hydroelectric Project located on the Pemigewasset River in central NH.

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 “Eastman Falls Hydroelectric 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 May 31, 2019.  The full application and reviewers report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project (pending LIHI #150) will be February 13, 2019 through February 12, 2024.

February 19, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Eastman 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.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s application materials 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 “Eastman Falls Project 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 on or before 5 pm Eastern time on April 20, 2019 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.