LIHI Certificate #77 - Winooski 8 Project, Vermont

The Winooski 8 Project is located in East Montpelier, Washington County, Vermont on the Winooski River. The project is sited at a dam originally constructed in 1908. The project was reconstructed in 1985. The Winooski River is the largest tributary watershed to Lake Champlain, integrating nearly 10% of Vermont’s land area. The project is located approximately 21 miles downstream of the Marshfield #6 hydroelectric project, and 10.6 miles upstream of the Middlesex #2 hydroelectric project.

The project includes a concrete gravity dam 227 feet long with a maximum height of 26 feet along with 3.3-foot-high flashboards. A 200-foot-long, 7-foot-diameter fiberglass penstock transports water to a concrete powerhouse containing three Flygt submersible propeller turbines and generators with a combined capacity of 0.856 MW. The 200-foot-long bypassed reach includes a plunge pool designed to protect the fishery at the base of the dam. The intake and powerhouse are an integral structure.

The project operates in a run-of-river mode and impounds a 7.5-acre reservoir. The project provides minimum flows of 25 cfs bypass reach. This flow regime was developed in consultation with Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VDEC) to ensure protection of aquatic resources and proper maintenance of the bypassed plunge pool.

Waters in the project reach are designated as Good, attaining all uses including aquatic biota, wildlife, and aquatic habitat. The Vermont Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (VDFW) has noted that the project requires routine drawdown and dredging to maintain water quality. The project area and upstream and downstream reaches are listed on the 2020 state report as “stressed” based on physical alteration, sediments, nutrients, turbidiy, and E. coli arising from stream bank erosion, channel instability and road runoff. The E. coli source of contamination is unknown.

Dams have existed on the Winooski River from as early as the 18th century. Along with natural barriers, upstream fish passage has been prevented via these dams long before the construction of the project.

Project Name Winooski No. 8
LIHI Certificate No. 77
LIHI Certificate Term February 28, 2021- February 27, 2026
Owner Winooski Hydroelectric Company
State Vermont
Location Located at river mile 59.7 on the Winooski River in East Montpelier, Washington County, Vermont
Installed Capacity 0.856 MW
Average Annual Generation 3,507 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-6470 issued 1983, expires 2023

Consultation with the VDEC and VDFW found that there are no historic records of migratory fish ever moving so far upstream in the watershed, thus no passage prescriptions have been requested. The existence of the dam does represent a barrier to resident fish species, specifically rainbow and brown trout. These species were introduced in the late 1800s from the West Coast and Europe respectively.

The project lands consist of less than 10 acres, including the project impoundment. Occupying around 2 miles of shoreline along the Winooski River, the project is located in a developed area with no lands of significant ecological value. The project is surrounded by U.S. Route 2 and commercial buildings.

In review of public records as well as consultation with resource agencies on threatened and endangered species, Northern long-eared bat and Eastern pearlshell mussel may be present. Project operations are unlikely to affect the bat species. A mussel study was conducted, and the project operates under a mussel relocation plan for periods of impoundment drawdown.

No cultural or historic resources exist in the project area.

Recreational resources at the project include fishing access, hiking trails, and a canoe portage. Public access is provided free of charge for informal access. The annual non-project ‘Fiddlehead Slalom’ canoe race occurs on a stretch of Class II+ whitewater below the project dam.


Certification History

August 27, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has issued a final decision on the recertification of the Winooski 8 Project. The 30-day appeal window closed on August 19, 2021 and no appeals were filed. Therefore, the decision to recertify the project is now final. The new term is February 28, 2021 through February 27, 2026. The Certificate includes the following conditions:

  • Condition 1:The current FERC license for the facility will expire in 2023, before the end of the term of the new LIHI Certificate. LIHI certification does not imply any judgment or recommendation on what the terms of a future FERC license should be. If a new FERC license is issued before the end of the new LIHI certification, the facility Owner shall provide LIHI with notification of that fact within 60 days of the FERC Order and describe all differences between the previous and new license that are relevant to the LIHI criteria. LIHI staff will review those differences and decide whether any changes will be required to the current LIHI certificate. The Owner shall summarize the status of re-licensing and any post-licensing activities in the LIHI annual compliance statements. LIHI reserves the right to modify its certification of the facility to maintain consistency with future FERC requirements and the agency recommendations therein.
  • Condition 2:To minimize impacts to any protected mussels that may be present in areas to be dredged, the facility Owner shall implement the mitigation proposal included in the draft license application which states that immediately following an impoundment drawdown, the exposed impoundment shoreline will be walked and searched for mussels. As recommended by VDF&W, a mussel biologist must be involved in such inspections. If any exposed mussels are found, they will be relocated into deeper waters to prevent exposure. Findings shall be reported to VDF&W upon inspection completion. The Owner shall summarize any findings and VDF&W comments in LIHI annual compliance statements.

July 20, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the Winooski 8 Project for a 5-year term 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 "Winooski 8 Project” 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 August 19, 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 the Project will be February 28, 2021 through February 27, 2026.

March 25, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete recertification application from Winooski Hydroelectric Company for the Winooski No. 8 Project located on the Winooski River in Vermont.

This is the second time the project will be reviewed using LIHI's 2nd Edition Handbook. LIHI developed a streamlined application format for such projects to facilitate review in accordance with Section 6.1 of the Handbook. This review process verifies the information submitted, considers any public comments received when the application is deemed complete, and assesses whether there have been any material changes at the facility or in the LIHI Handbook that affect compliance with the LIHI Criteria.

LIHI is seeking comment on this application. 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 LIHI by e-mail at comments@lowimpacthydro.org with "Winooski 8 Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Office 407, Arlington, MA 02476. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on May 24, 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.

The project description and complete application can be found below along with the prior recertification application, and the prior review report under the 2nd Edition Handbook, as well as the other relevant documents.

May 22, 2017:  The appeal period closed on May 21, 2017 with no requests for appeal.  The decision to issue a new term of LIHI certification is final.  The effective certification date is February 28, 2016 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on February 28, 2021.

April 21, 2017: On April 18, 2017, LIHI issued a Preliminary Certification Decision that the Winooski No. 8 Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-6470) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. As provided for in Section 4.2.5 of the LIHI 2nd Edition Handbook, the Preliminary Certification Decision, along with the Application Reviewer’s report will be posted on the Institute’s Web page for 30 days.  Notice of the posting will be provided to all individuals or organizations that commented on the initial Application Package. Any Commenter may submit a letter to the Executive Director requesting an appeal within the 30-day period, which begins on April 21, 2017 and ends at 5 pm EDT on May 21. 2017.  The appeal request must state specific reasons why the hydropower facility should have failed one or more criteria.  Only individuals or organizations that commented on the initial Application Package may file an appeal.  Further information about the LIHI appeal process is available in the LIHI Handbook.

If no appeal is requested within the 30-day period, the Executive Director will issue LIHI Certification for the facility and post a notification of certification on the Institute’s website.  Once final, the effective certification date for the Winooski No. 8 Project is February 28, 2016 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on February 28, 2021.

November 21, 2016: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Winooski 8 Hydroelectric project. The application materials can be found in the Files section below.

LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Winooski 8 project continues to meet the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s 2016 application materials posted on the project page.  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 “Winooski 8 Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, PO Box 194, Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on January 20, 2017 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.

October 27, 2011: The Winooski No. 8 Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective February 28, 2011 and expiring February 28, 2016.

February 28, 2011: The Winooski Hydroelectric Company has submitted an application for certification of the Winooski No. 8 Project. Public comment period has been opened for 60 days.