LIHI Certificate #44 - Ice House Project, Massachusetts

The dam at the Ice House project has been in use since the 1790's, and was used as a reference marker in laying out the towns. The location was probably chosen due to availability of a rock out crop in the river bed, allowing a solid anchorage for a dam.

The Ice House Project uses the existing 190-foot-long, 12-foot-high Ice House dam and spillway topped with existing 24-inch-high flashboards that impound a 137-acre reservoir. The project has a headgate structure, equipped with four 8-foot-high, 10-foot-wide gates, leading to an existing 50-foot-wide, 109-footlong power canal. The restored powerhouse contains two turbine generating units with a total installed capacity of 280 kilowatts, and is located in the canal about 75 feet downstream of the headgate. Water used for generation discharges from the powerhouse into a 50-foot-wide, 400-foot-long tailrace (measured from the headgate to the tailrace outlet). Project power is transmitted through an existing 480-volt, 100-foot-long underground transmission cable. The Nashua River reach that is bypassed by operating the project (measured from the dam to the tailrace outlet) is about 300 feet long.

Ice House Partners operates the project in a run-of-river mode, and maintains a 1 million gallon per day flow (mgd) in the bypassed reach year-round via a notch cut in the flashboards.

The project is equipped with a real-time water level recording device to match turbine discharge with river inflow. When flow in the Nashua River is equal to or less than the hydraulic capacity of one turbine unit (160 cfs), no units would operate, and all inflow would spill over the flashboards. When flow exceeds 160 cfs, one turbine unit would begin generating and the excess would be spilled over the flashboards until such inflow exceeds an additional 160 cfs or 320 cfs (the hydraulic capacity of two units), at which time the second turbine unit would begin generating, with all flows over 320 cfs spilled over the flashboards.

Project Name Ice House
LIHI Certificate No. 44
LIHI Certificate Term August 6, 2019 - August 5, 2027
Owner Ice House Partners
State Massachusetts
Location Located at river mile 26.9 on the Nashua River in Ayer, Massachusetts, at the intersection of the towns of Ayer, Harvard, and Shirley.
Installed Capacity 0.280 MW
Average Annual Generation 1,133 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-12769 exempt 2008

Certification History

October 31, 2019:  The decision to recertify the Ice House Hydroelectric Project is final. No appeals were received during the appeal period which closed on October 30, 2019. The new certification term for the Project is from August 6, 2019 through August 5, 2027.

September 30, 2019:  On September 27, 2019 the Low Impact Hydropower Institute preliminarily approved Low Impact Recertification for the Ice House Hydroelectric Project, LIHI #44. The Certification includes one condition:

  • Condition 1: Should the Facility Owner receive notification during the term of this LIHI Certification from either FWS or MDFW that upstream and/or downstream passage for anadromous or catadromous fish is required, the Owner shall forward to LIHI a copy of that notification along with a summary of plans and a schedule to initiate consultation and subsequently implement passage.

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 “Ice House 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 October 30, 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 will be August 6, 2019 for a term of eight (8) years, which will expire on August 5, 2027.

July 19, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Recertification of the Ice House 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 “Ice House 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 September 19, 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.

August 21, 2014: The Ice House Hydroelectric Project has been recertified as low impact, continuing to meet the requirements of the Low Impact Hydropower Institute Certification Program. It will have a term of five years, effective August 6, 2014 and expiring August 6, 2019.

June 9, 2014: LIHI received a comment letter from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife regarding the recertification of the Ice House Hydropower Project. The letter can be read in full in the “Files” section below.

April 23, 2014: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received an application for a second term of certification of the Ice House Hydropower Project. The application materials are available in the “Files” section below.

October 22, 2009: The Ice House Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective August 6, 2009 and expiring August 6, 2014.

August 6, 2009: Ice House Partners has submitted an application for certification of the Ice House Hydroelectric Project. The public comment period will remain open for 60 days.