Powerhouse_Panarama_Across_Pond_web

Powerhouse viewed from downstream

Woronoco Hydroelectric Project is located at river mile 18.5 on the Westfield River in, Russell, Massachusetts. The Westfield River originates in North-Western Massachusetts and flows 78.1 miles to its confluence with the Connecticut River in West Springfield. The Project’s operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) was issued on April 30, 2002.

Project Name Woronoco
LIHI Certificate No. 68
LIHI Certificate Term January 28, 2015 – January 28, 2020

Extended to June 30, 2020

Owner Woronoco Hydro, LLC, a subsidiary of Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC
State Massachusetts
Location Located at river mile 18.5 on the Westfield River in Russell, Massachusetts.
Installed Capacity 2.68 MW
Average Annual Generation 11,359 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-2631 issued 2002, expires 2042

The project’s principal features consist of:

  1. two non-contiguous dam sections and an earthen dike;
  2. a penstock intake area leading to a powerhouse, which contains three turbine/ generator units with an installed capacity of 2.68 MW;
  3. a downstream fish passage facility and three upstream eel ladders;
  4. a 43-acre impoundment at the normal pool elevation; and,
  5. a bypassed reach with three channels, varying in length from 200 to 1,000 feet.

According to the FERC license for this project, there are three generating units installed. When the license was issued in 2002, the project operated with only one unit (Unit 3, which has a rated installed capacity of 1.9 MW with 30″ flashboards). As part of its relicense application, the applicant proposed to rehabilitate the two non-operating low flow units (Units 1 and 2), which have a rated installed capacity of 0.4 MW each. With the rehabilitated units and flashboards, the project would generate at its full capacity of 2.7 MW and, with the Applicant’s proposed minimum flow, would generate an estimated average of about 11,359 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity annually.

The FERC license says the project will continue to be, operated in a run-of-river mode, such that outflows from the project are approximately equal to the sum of the inflows to the project impoundment on an instantaneous basis. Woronoco Hydro would operate the project to minimize fluctuations to the impoundment water surface elevation.

Woronoco forebay and dam

Looking up impoundment from area of dam

 

Panorama_from_bridge_towards_dam_3_web

Bottom of Salmon Falls on the Westfield River from bridge above Woronoco powerhouse

Certification History

June 3, 2020:  On May 29, 2020 the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved the Woronoco Project (LIHI #109) for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification. The Certificate includes the following conditions:

Condition 1: Assuming USFWS approval of permanent removal of the North Eel Dam eel passage ladder is received, the facility Owner shall also notify MDEP of this change as the WQC includes the requirement for eel passage. In the Annual Compliance Report to LIHI, the Owner shall confirm that the annual eel passage data has been provided to MDFW, and USFWS if that agency requests it, along with copies of any FERC or MDEP responses to notification regarding removal of the Northern Dam eel passage ladder.

 Condition 2: The facility Owner shall make the following improvements to the Project recreational facilities:

  • Conduct seasonal facility cleanup and necessary structural repairs and install improved signage to all facilities by June 30, 2020 to promote 2020 seasonal use. Signage should satisfy FERC requirements. Access and parking information must be clearly posted. description of this program shall be provided to LIHI by June 30, 2020 and a status summary of these activities shall be reported to LIHI in annual compliance submittals.
  • The ADA fishing platform shall be inspected for safety and usability prior to June 30, 2020. If determined not to be suitable for ADA fishing access, needed improvements or relocation if necessary, shall be made as soon as practicable in accordance with applicable permitting requirements and any necessary agency consultation.   The Owner shall inform LIHI of a plan to ensure platform usability by July 31, 2020 along with a schedule for additional planned work.  The Owner shall notify LIHI of project status and final completion in annual compliance submittals.

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 “Woronoco 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 3, 2020. 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 the Project will be January 28, 2020 through January 27, 2025.

February 24, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Recertification of the Woronoco 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 “Woronoco 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 April 24, 2020 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.

November 8, 2015: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has certified that the Woronoco Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-2631) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. A Preliminary Decision was announced on November 8, 2015, and a 30-day appeal period was open through December 8, 2015. No requests for appeal were received.

The effective certification date for the Woronoco Project is January 28, 2015 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on January 28, 2020.

July 10, 2015: The Woronoco Hydroelectric project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is December 31, 2015. See ExtensionLetter_20150708 for explanation below.

June 23, 2015: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received a comment letter from Caleb Slater, of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, in support of the recertification of the Woronoco project. The letter can be read in the Files section below.

June 1, 2015: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Woronoco Hydroelectric project on June 1, 2015.  The application materials can be found in the Files section below.

April 10, 2015: The Woronoco Hydroelectric Project has been granted a six month extension of the current certification term.  The new expiration date is July 27, 2015.  See April 2015 Letter Extending Term and Explaining Recertification below.

January 28, 2011: The Woronoco Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective January 28, 2010 and expiring January 28, 2015.

March 28, 2010: The public comment period for the application for certification has been closed.

January 28, 2010: Woronoco Hydro, LLC has submitted an application for certification of the Woronoco Hydroelectric Project. The public comment period will remain open for 60 days.


Files:

2020 Recertification:

2015 Recertification