LIHI Certificate #7 - Beaver River Project, New York

The Beaver River Project is comprised of eight hydropower dams and powerhouses on the Beaver River in the towns of Croghan and Watson in Lewis County, New York, and the town of Webb in Herkimer County, New York. The Beaver River is a major tributary of the Black River located in the north-central region of the state. Lying in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, the river is 51 miles long and was once characterized by numerous waterfalls. The majority of the river’s length is now impounded. The eight facilities are located downstream of the Stillwater dam and above the confluence with the Black River. Construction of the projects began in 1903 and was completed in 1930. From upstream to downstream the project consists of the Moshier, Eagle, Soft Maple, Effley, Elmer, Taylorville, Belfort, and High Falls facilities, all owned by Erie Boulevard Hydropower.

The project includes eight developments:

  • Moshier Development consists of: a 920-foot-long by 93-foot-high earth embankment dam containing a 200-foot-long concrete spillway topped with two-foot-high flashboards and a 53-foot-long non-overflow concrete abutment; a 340-acre impoundment; a 28-foot-wide by 51-foot-high concrete intake structure containing two 11-foot-wide by 51-foot-high trashracks and two 10-foot-wide by 12-foot-high steel slide gates; a 3,740-foot-long by 10-foot-diameter steel penstock connected to a 5,620-foot-long by 10-foot- diameter fiberglass reinforced plastic penstock for a total penstock length of 9,360 feet; an excavated tailrace channel; a 30-foot-diameter steel surge tank; a penstock bifurcation downstream of the surge tank that divides into two 70-foot-long by 7-foot-diameter steel penstocks; a concrete/masonry powerhouse containing two vertical Francis turbines connected to direct-drive synchronous generators with an installed capacity of 8 MW; a 36-inch-diameter minimum flow pipe and butterfly valve; an 11-mile-long, 115-kV transmission line; and appurtenant equipment.
  • Eagle Development consists of: a 365-foot-long by 21-foot-high concrete gravity dam containing a 185-foot-long ogee spillway topped with 1-foot flashboards and an 85-foot-long, non-overflow concrete abutment; an 138-acre impoundment; a 20-foot-wide gated log sluice; a 50-foot-long headgate structure with four 9.5-foot-wide stop log slots and four 9.5-foot by 9.5- foot trashracks; an 18-foot-wide by 16-foot-deep by 540-foot-long forebay canal; a concrete intake structure containing three 10-foot-wide by 7-foot-high timber slide gates a 2,725-foot-long by 9-foot-diameter steel penstock; a concrete/masonry powerhouse containing four horizontal Francis turbines connected to direct-drive synchronous generators with an installed capacity of 6 MW; a 5-foot-wide aluminum slide gate that supplies minimum flow to the bypass; a 300-foot-long tailrace channel; a 160-foot- long, 115-kV transmission line; and appurtenant equipment.
  • Soft Maple Development consists of: five earth embankment dikes; a 910-foot-long by 115-foot-high earth embankment diversion dam; a 720-foot-long by 100-foot-high earth embankment terminal dam; a 400-acre impoundment; a 144-foot-long concrete ogee spillway with 1.5-foot-high flashboards; two 10-foot-wide aluminum sluice gates; a 600- foot-long forebay; an 81.5-foot-wide concrete intake structure containing three 26-foot-wide by 33.5-foot-high trashracks; two 530-foot-long by 11.5-foot-diameter steel penstocks; intake facilities for an additional penstock; a concrete/masonry powerhouse containing two identical vertical Francis turbines connected to direct-drive synchronous generators with an installed capacity of 15 MW; an excavated tailrace channel; a 20-foot-long, 115-kV transmission line; and appurtenant equipment.
Project Name Beaver River
LIHI Certificate No. 7
LIHI Certificate Term July 16, 2018 - July 15, 2023 (option to extend to July 15, 2026)
Owner Erie Boulevard Hydropower LLC (Brookfield Renewable Energy Group)
State New York
Location Located between river mile 13 and 29.9 on the Beaver River in upstate New York, northeast of Syracuse.
Installed Capacity Total: 44.8 MW Moshier: 8.0 MW Eagle: 6.0 MW Soft Maple: 15.0 MW Effley: 3.0 MW Elmer: 1.5 MW Taylorville: 4.6 MW Belfort: 2.0 MW High Falls: 4.7 MW
Average Annual Generation Total: 203,806 MWh Moshier: 39,000 MWh Eagle: 33,226 MWh Soft Maple: 39,134 MWh Effley: 15,804 MWh Elmer: 11,418 MWh Taylorville: 23,569 MWh Belfort: 11,318 MWh High Falls: 30,336 MWh
Facility Type store-and-release
FERC No. P-2645 issued 1996, expires 2026
  • Effley Development consists of: a 647-foot-long by 30-foot-high concrete gravity dam containing a 430-foot-long by 30-foot-high concrete ogee spillway and a 188-foot-long non-overflow concrete abutment; a 340 acre impoundment; a gated 29-foot-long log chute; a 100-foot- long forebay; a 38.5-foot- wide intake structure containing a 22-foot-wide by 22-foot-high trashrack and three 6-foot-wide by 8-foot-high timber slide gates; a 36-foot-wide concrete intake structure containing a 20-foot-wide by 27-foot-high trashrack and an 11-foot by 11-foot slide gate; three 87-foot-long by 5-foot-diameter steel penstocks and one 148-foot-long by 8- foot-diameter steel penstock; two concrete/masonry powerhouses, one containing three horizontal Francis turbines connected to direct-drive synchronous generators and the second containing a single vertical Francis turbine connected to a direct-drive synchronous generator with an installed capacity of 3 MW; excavated tailrace channels; a 2.3- mile-long, 23-kV transmission line; and appurtenant equipment.
  • Elmer Development consists of: a 238-foot-long by 23-foot-high concrete gravity spillway; a 34-acre impoundment; a 25-foot-wide sluice gate with needle beams; a forebay; a 39-foot-wide concrete intake structure containing two 16.5-foot-wide by 21.5-foot-high trashracks and four 6-foot-wide by 11-foot-high timber slide gates; a concrete/masonry powerhouse containing two vertical Francis turbines connected to direct-drive synchronous generators with an installed capacity of 1.5 MW; an excavated tailrace channel; a 2,270-foot-long, 23-kV transmission line; and appurtenant equipment.
  • Taylorville Development consists of: a 1,003-foot-long by 23-foot-high concrete gravity dam; a 33-foot-wide concrete intake structure containing a 25- foot-wide by 20-foot-high trashrack and three 5.5-foot-wide by 13-foot-high timber slide gates; an 170-acre impoundment; a 2,725-foot-long by 9.5-foot-diameter steel penstock; an 18-foot-diameter surge tank located about 40 feet upstream of the powerhouse; a concrete/masonry powerhouse containing four horizontal Francis turbines connected to direct- drive synchronous generators with an installed capacity of 4.6 MW; an excavated tailrace channel; two 7.5-foot-wide aluminum slide gates for minimum flows; a 400-foot-long, 23-kV transmission line; and appurtenant equipment.
  • Belfort Development consists of: a 206-foot-long by 17-foot-high concrete gravity dam with a 161-foot-long concrete ogee spillway equipped with 2-foot-high flashboards; a 50-acre impoundment; a 120-foot-long forebay; a 62-foot-wide concrete intake structure containing one 12-foot-wide by 17-foot-high trashrack, one 12-foot-wide by 23-foot-high trashrack, and two 11-foot by 11-foot timber slide gates; one 52-foot-long by 7-foot-diameter steel penstock and one 52-foot-long by 7.5-foot-diameter steel penstock and penstock bifurcation; a concrete/masonry powerhouse containing three horizontal Francis turbines connected to direct-drive synchronous generators with an installed capacity of 2 MW; a 400-foot-long tailrace channel; a 3,540- foot-long, 23-kV transmission line; and appurtenant equipment.
  • High Falls Development consists of: a 1,233-foot-long, 50-foot-high concrete gravity dam containing a 470-foot-long non-overflow concrete gravity section and a 650-foot-long concrete ogee spillway; an 145-acre impoundment; a 64 foot-wide by 29-foot-high concrete intake structure containing four 12-foot-wide by 20.5-foot-high trashracks and four steel slide gates; a 49-foot-wide log sluice that has been sealed; a 605-foot-long by 12-foot-diameter riveted steel penstock; a concrete/masonry powerhouse containing three vertical Francis turbines connected to direct-drive synchronous generators with an installed capacity of 4.7 MW; a spare turbine bay for future expansion; a 3.7-mile-long, 23 kV transmission line; and appurtenant equipment.

The project operates in a store-and-release mode with inflow from the upstream Stillwater project operated by the Hudson River/Black River Regulating District (HRBRRD) to provide storage of spring runoff, flood mitigation, and low-flow augmentation for the remainder of the Beaver River and the lower Black River.

The flow releases and water level control of the facilities were developed in consultation with USFWS and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Further, the project developments operate under a Low Flow Augmentation Plan and a Water Level Monitoring Plan to ensure impoundment fluctuations and fish movement flows comply with recommended standards.

Waters within the project reach are designated Class C, managed for fishing, fish propagation, and primary and secondary contact recreation. A further designation accounts for trout waters, of which the reaches at the Eagle, Soft Maple, Effley, Elmer, Taylorville, and Belfort are classified. The Mosier bypassed reach is classified as Class C, non-trout waters. The High Falls bypassed reach and tailrace are designated Class B, non-trout waters, managed for primary and secondary contact recreation and suitable aquatic habitat.

Beaver River exhibits several natural barriers including vertical falls, chutes, and steep rapids over extensive areas of exposed bedrock. Additionally, the many hydropower facilities create barriers to upstream passage, but the natural barriers would preclude access for passage regardless. Resident game fish species include yellow perch, rock bass, white sucker, brown bullhead, and pumpkinseed. Non-sport fish include banded killifish, creek chub, lake chub, golden shiner, redbelly dace, and black nose dace. Trashracks with 1-inch clear bar spacing were installed at the developments to exclude adult fish from being entrained. The developments each provide downstream passage:

  1. Moshier – A year-round minimum flow of 45 cfs is provided in the bypassed reach through a slide gate structure.
  2. Eagle – A year-round minimum flow of 45 cfs is provided in the bypassed reach through a minimum flow slide gate.
  3. Soft Maple – A year-round minimum flow of 35 cfs is provided in the bypassed reach, as well as a 15 cfs flow through the existing slide gates at the spillway, and 20 cfs is provided through the existing diversion tunnel and a release structure.
  4. Effley – A year-round minimum flow 20 cfs in the bypassed reach is provided through a gate in the north side of the spillway.
  5. Elmer – A year-round minimum flow of 20 cfs is provided in the bypassed reach through the modified minimum flow structure at the needle beam structure.
  6. Taylorville – A year-round minimum flow of 60 cfs is provided in the bypassed reach through a minimum flow slide gate.
  7. Belfort – A year-round minimum flow of 20 cfs is provided in the bypassed reach through a slide gate structure.
  8. High Falls – A year-round minimum flow of 30 cfs in the bypassed reach, 10 cfs through the low-level slide gate in the middle of the spillway, 20 cfs through the new gate structure on the north side of the spillway, and a continuous base flow of 250 cfs.

The project lands consist primarily of heavily forested areas. The Moshier and Eagle developments are both located within the Adirondack Park boundary. Soft Maple is located partially within Adirondack Park with seasonal residences nearby. Effley and Elmer developments are situated in a heavily wooded area outside of Adirondack Park. The Taylorville development is similarly situated with a very low population density with a few permanent residents nearby. The Belfort and High Falls developments are situated in a rural/agricultural area with a very low population density as well. The developments’ flow regimes and limited impoundment fluctuations mitigate potential for shoreline erosion. The project has contributed to the Beaver River Fund used within the Beaver River basin for ecosystem restoration and protection, natural resource stewardship, public education, research, facility maintenance, and public recreational resources.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Northern long-eared bat. The project operates in accordance with the USFWS 4(d) rule which identifies provisions for protecting the bat species. The rule especially restricts tree clearing at the project from June 1 through July 31. Further consultation with the NYSDEC’s Natural Heritage Program indicated that the common loon, a species of Special Concern, may be found near the Moshier, Soft Maple, and Eagle Falls developments.

The infrastructure associated with all eight developments are eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places for their representation of early electric power development. Thus, the State Historic Preservation Office must be consulted prior to any modifications to the project infrastructure. The project owner provides annual reports to the SHPO detailing activities associated with its cultural resources.

Recreational resources at the project include boat launches, canoe portages, picnic areas, campsites, and scenic overlooks at each development. Public access is provided free of charge where safety issues or private ownership do not preclude access. Whitewater releases are scheduled at the Moshier (one four-hour release), Eagle (five four-hour releases), and Taylorville (five four-hour releases) developments annually.


Certification History

February 5, 2019: The decision to recertify the Beaver River project is now final. The new certification term is from July 16, 2018 to July 15, 2023 with an opportunity to extend the term to July 15, 2026. Condition 1 has been amended as follows:

  • Partially satisfied 2021, with gage installation Condition 1:  Within 90 days after recertification, Erie will initiate consultation and attempt to schedule a meeting with the USFWS, NYSDEC, HRBRRD, Beaver Lake landowner representatives, and BRAC to discuss concerns related to flow fluctuations at Beaver Lake. The meeting should define a process aimed at identifying the causes of fluctuations on Beaver Lake and ultimately seeking to alleviate any causes that are found to be under Erie’s control. As part of each annual compliance report to LIHI, Erie should submit a brief report detailing the status of findings and any agreements for actions to be taken to resolve landowner concerns.
  • Condition 2 (optional):If prior to six months before the expiration of the Certification term EBH provides more evidence of how the Project meets the PLUS standard for shoreline and watershed protection in all ZOEs including Beaver Lake, LIHI will review that information and determine whether or not to award the PLUS and extend the Certificate term for three additional years.

January 30, 2019:  LIHI sent a response letter to the two appeal requests. The letter can be found below under 2018 Recertification Files.

January 25, 2019:The applicant response to the two appeal requests was received from the Project owner on January 23, 2019.  It can be found below under 2018 Recertification Files.

January 23, 2019: The Beaver River Project has been granted another extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is  April 1, 2019.

January 7, 2019:Two letters requesting an appeal of the preliminary decision were received on January 5, 2019. They can be found below under 2018 Recertification Files.

December 5, 2018:The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has preliminarily approved the Beaver River Hydroelectric Project for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification with the following conditions:
  • Partially satisfied 2021 with pending gage installationCondition 1:Within 90 days after recertification, EBH will initiate consultation and attempt to schedule a meeting with the USFWS, NYSDEC, HRBRRD, and BRAC to discuss all concerns related to Beaver Lake. The meeting should define a process to adequately identify the causes of fluctuations on Beaver Lake and ultimately seek to alleviate these issues. As part of each annual compliance report to LIHI, EBH should submit a brief report detailing the status of findings and any agreements for actions to be taken.
  • Condition 2 (optional):If prior to six months before the expiration of the Certification term EBH provides more evidence of how the Project meets the PLUS standard for shoreline and watershed protection in all ZOEs including Beaver Lake, LIHI will review that information and determine whether or not to award the PLUS and extend the Certificate term for three additional years.

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 “Beaver River Hydroelectric Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 2, 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 January 6, 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 Beaver River Project will be July 16, 2018 through July 15, 2023.

August 7, 2018: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Beaver River Hydroelectric Project (LIHI # 7). The Project is located on the Beaver River in Herkimer and Lewis Counties, in New York.

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 2018 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 “Beaver River 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 at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on October 6, 2018 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.

July 5, 2018: The Beaver River Project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is December 31, 2018.

December 8, 2014: The Beaver River Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2645), LIHI Certificate No. 7 has been determined by the Executive Director, Michael J. Sale to satisfy the requirements of the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) Certification Program. The decision to certify the Beaver River Hydroelectric Project is for a 5-year term, effective July 16, 2013 and expiring July 16, 2018.

November 18, 2013: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received an application for recertification of the Beaver River Project. The 2013 application was received on August 5, but due to administrative backlog, the certificate has been granted a six month extension beyond July 16, 2013 to allow for review of the application.

August 28, 2008: The Beaver River Project has been certified for a second five year term of low impact certification. The Board’s vote to recertify the project was unanimous, and the effective certification term is July 16, 2008, expiring July 16, 2013.

July 16, 2003: The Beaver River Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective July 24, 2003 and expiring July 24, 2008. It is the first hydropower facility in New York to earn LIHI certification.

March 20, 2003: Erie Boulevard Hydropower, LP has submitted an application for certification of the Beaver River Project. It is comprised of eight facilities operated and licensed together as one FERC project.