LIHI Certificate #185 - Upper La Chute Project, New York

Project Name Upper La Chute
LIHI Certificate No. 185
LIHI Certificate Term August 5, 2021 – August 4, 2031
Owner La Chute Hydro Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Central Rivers Power LLC
State New York
Location River Mile 2.53 on the LaChute River
Installed Capacity 4.9 MW
Average Annual Generation 19,000 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-5760, Exemption issued November 15, 1984

The Upper La Chute Hydroelectric Project and the Lower La Chute Hydroelectric Project are both located on the La Chute River, in the Village of Ticonderoga, Essex County, New York. The La Chute River carries flow from Lake George to Lake Champlain and is approximately 2.5 miles long.

The Upper La Chute Project consists of three dams, Mill A dam (Lake George Outlet dam, the control structure for the water surface level of Lake George into the La Chute River), Mill B dam, and Mill C dam. Upper La Chute utilizes the waters of Lake George, a 44 square mile recreational lake in upstate New York, as the headwaters for the project. The releases from Lake George are set by New York State statute and guidelines and are regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Flows from Lake George are conveyed 2,300 feet downstream by a steel penstock 9 feet in diameter to a powerhouse located near Mill C. The dam forms a bypassed reach approximately 1 mile long. The powerhouse has a single turbine-generator unit rated at 4,900 kilowatts.

The Upper La Chute project operates in run-of-river mode and inflows are dictated by flow releases from Lake George. More specifically, operations are detailed in the 1992 Lake George Dam Operating Guidelines for the Upper La Chute Hydroelectric Project, which provides other regulations for the stewardship of the water resources at Lake George and at the project. A continuous minimum flow of 30 cfs in the bypassed reach is provided to support resident aquatic biota.

Waters within the project reach are designated as Class AA-S(TS) at Lake George, Class C(TS) in the bypassed reach, and Class C in the tailwater reach. Lake George is listed as impaired for silt and sediment pollution due to urban and storm runoff as well as erosion. The Lake George Watershed Association has taken many steps to help prevent polluted flows from entering the lake. Class AA waters are best used for drinking water, primary or secondary contact recreation, and fishing. Class C waters are best used for fishing. The application of (TS) indicates that the classifications are supportive of trout populations.

The La Chute River in the project vicinity supports a mix of warmwater and coldwater fish species. Of these, several migratory species are found at the project including blueback herring, alewife, American eel, lake sturgeon, landlocked Atlantic salmon, and sea lamprey. Atlantic salmon are maintained via stocking and American eel are similarly supported via stocking. Blueback herring, alewife, and sea lamprey are considered non-native or invasive and thus pose a threat to native species, especially trout and salmon. Passage is not desirable for these species as they could negatively impact native fish populations in Lake George. Downstream passage is provided via a downstream bypass which includes a buried pipe with an underground sluice that carry fish to the bypass reach. Downstream passage is also provided through the minimum flow weir at Upper La Chute.

The project lands consist of just under 500 acres encompassing both the Upper La Chute and Lower La Chute projects. The shoreline in the project vicinity is a mix of deciduous and evergreen forest with residential and commercial properties with ornamental grasses. Some agrarian fields and wetlands are also found in the area. The 1992 Lake George Dam Operating Guidelines for the Upper La Chute Hydroelectric Project provides specific provisions regarding the management of water levels in the Lake George watershed.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Indiana bat and Northern long-eared bat. No critical habitats for either species are found in the project vicinity. Other listed plant and bird species are listed as potentially present though the project does not operate in or impact areas where these species may be found.

Consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office concluded that project operations do not have an adverse impact on historical or cultural resources in the area.

Recreational resources at the project include fishing, boating, and camping access at the Upper impoundment. There is also fishing access in the bypass reach. Public access is provided free of charge.


Certification History

January 1, 2022: The LIHI Certificate term has been extended in accordance with Revision 2.05 of the LIHI 2nd Edition Certification Handbook issued January 1, 2022. Refer to the facility table above for the new term.

December 14, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has issued a final decision on the certification of the Upper La Chute Project. The 30-day appeal window closed on December 4, 2021 and no appeals were filed. Therefore, the decision to certify the project is now final. The new term is August 5, 2021 through August 4, 2026.

November 4, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the Upper and Lower La Chute Projects for 5-year terms 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 “Upper and Lower La Chute Projects” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Ave, Office 407, Arlington, MA 02476.
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 December 4, 2021.

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 each Project will be August 5, 2021 through August 4, 2026.

August 5, 2021:The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the La Chute Upper and Lower Projects. 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 “La Chute Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476. Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on October 4, 2021 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.


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