LIHI Certificate #152 – Burnshire Project, Virginia

The Burnshire Hydroelectric Project is located on the North Fork Shenandoah River in Woodstock, Shenandoah County Virginia. This site first began as a grist mill known as Old Rush’s Mill. It was purchased by Dr. J. I. Triplett in 1873. In 1892, Dr. Triplett transformed the grist mill into the first source of electric power for the town of Woodstock. A flood in 1924 subsequently destroyed the original powerhouse leaving only the foundation along the dam. This flood prompted the owner to replace the turbines. Another significant flood occurred in 1936 that completely islanded the powerhouse from the shore prompting the entire wood structure of the powerhouse to be replaced with concrete filled block. In 1956, the facility was purchased by VEPCO, now known as Dominion Energy, and was decommissioned. The facility then languished for decades. The energy supply crisis in the 1970’s, along with deregulation of the power industry, caused the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) to be enacted in 1978. The site was then purchased and power generation at the site was restored in the late 1980’s. A decade later, the site became inactive and power generation ceased.

The current owner/operator, Burnshire Hydroelectric LLC, purchased the site in 2012. Since then, two of three turbines have been restored and one is generating power. The second turbine will be fully powered by the end of 2019. The third turbine is being repaired now and is 50% complete. It too is expected to be generating power in 2019. The Project includes a concrete dam, 280 feet long and 14 feet high, a 150-foot-long forebay, and a powerhouse with three penstocks and two Leffel 27-B4 propeller turbines with original faceplate capacity 145 HP each, and one Leffel 21-Z Francis turbine with original faceplate capacity of 85 HP. The Project operates as a true run of the river facility. This is possible due to the unique generation and modern equipment that allows variable speed/flow operation of the turbine/generator unit.

Project Name Burnshire
LIHI Certificate No. 152
LIHI Certificate Term March 27, 2019 - March 26, 2029
Owner Burnshire Hydroelectric LLC
State Virginia
Location River mile 41.7 on the North Fork Shenandoah River
Installed Capacity 0.232 MW
Average Annual Generation 1,400 MWh
Facility Type Run of river
FERC No. P-3287 exempt 1982

Burnshire uses a permanent magnet generator coupled to a four-quadrant inverter that allows continuous generation from full wicket gate opening to 5% open. This is an innovative solution that matches incoming river flow to outflow while still allowing generation and is an active area of research and development. River inflow is measured indirectly via multiple in channel pressure gauges that monitor for drops in surface elevation (a confirmatory backup monitor is located in the forebay). If a measured river level decreases, wicket gates are adjusted to decrease water flow into the facility and through the turbines. If adequate river flow allows, wicket gates are opened to produce more power or additional turbines can be started with the same river level monitoring feedback mechanism.

Certification History

August 5, 2019: The decision to certify the Burnshire Hydroelectric Project is final. No appeals were received during the appeal period which closed on July 13, 2019. The new certification term for the Project is from March 27, 2019 through March 26, 2029.

June 12, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Burnshire Hydroelectric Project.

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 with “Burnshire 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 July 13, 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 #152) will be March 27, 2019 through March 26, 2029.

April 1, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Burnshire 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 with “Burnshire 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 May 31, 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.