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The Cresticon Hydroelectric Project(s) (“the project”) are located on the Millers River in the town of Athol, Massachusetts. Industrial, residential and undeveloped lands are all found in the project area. Some of the undeveloped land primarily on the north side of the river, close as it is to intensive industrial and commercial use, provides some wildlife habitat. Undeveloped lands include a number of wooded areas some of which are seasonally flooded. The remainder of the area consists of large industrial development. The project area, as outlined in the attached Project Boundary Map, Appendix 3-1, is located in the Millers River Basin.  The approximate latitude and longitude of the Upper Cresticon project area are 42°35’45.69″N and 72°13’10.85″W. The approximate latitude and longitude of the Lower Cresticon project area are 42°35’47.05″N and 72°13’24.64″W.

Project Name Cresticon
LIHI Certificate Number 87
LIHI Effective and Expiration Dates March 3, 2017
March 3, 2025
Owner L.P. Athol Corporation
State Massachusetts
Location Located on the Millers River in the town of Athol, Massachusetts.
Installed Capacity 0.5 MW
Average Annual Generation 1,080 MWH
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. 10163

The projects are operated as a run-of-river facilities. The projects is required to maintain a continuous minimum flow of 25 cubic feet per second (ABF .5 cfs) or the inflow to the reservoir, whichever is less. Project works at the Upper Cresticon development consists of: (1) an existing 79-foot-long stone and concrete gravity dam; (2) 2-foot-high flashboards; (3) an impoundment having a surface area of 0.5 acres with negligible storage and normal water surface elevation of 569.06 feet m.s.l. (4) an existing 334 foot-long power canal; (5) an existing powerhouse containing one generating unit with an installed capacity of 250 kW; (6) an existing 223-foot-long tailrace; (7) an existing 90-foot-long, 13.8-kV transmission line; and (6) appurtenant facilities.

Project works at the Lower Cresticon project consist of: (1) an existing 135-foot-long, 3-foot, 10-inch-high concrete and stone dam; (2) 2-foot-high flashboards; (3) an impoundment having negligible storage and surface area and a normal water surface elevation of 355.2 feet m.s.l.; (4) a 670-foot-long power canal; (5) an existing powerhouse containing one generating unit with an installed capacity of 250 kW; (6) an existing tailrace; (7) an existing 1,200-foot-long, 13.8-kV transmission line, and (8) appurtenant facilities

Both the Upper and Lower Cresticon Projects are unmanned, but operation is monitored on a 24/7 basis.

The Millers River formed at the end of the last glacial period when several glacial lakes joined and, eventually, drained into the Connecticut River. The river’s headwaters are in Ashburnham and Winchendon, Massachusetts, and the headwaters of the North Branch are in Mountain Pond, at the western foot of the Wapack Range in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. The Millers River drains a total area of about 390 square miles, about 313 square miles of which are in Massachusetts, with the remainder in New Hampshire. About 78 percent of the basin is forested, 11 percent is open land, 8 percent is wetland, and 3 percent contains urban areas. The watershed is made up of all or part of 17 municipalities with population centers concentrated around Gardner, Athol, and Orange Massachusetts.

A gauge, located nine miles upstream from the Cresticon hydroelectric project, was has been maintained in the Millers River since 1916. The average flow over the 35 years of record was 738.6 cfs. The maximum discharge of record, 29,000 cfs (estimated), occurred in 1928; the minimum, 20 cfs, occurred in 1964. In accordance with its FERC License (project No. 10163) the project is operated as a run of river facility and is responsible for maintaining a continuous minimum flow of 25 cubic feet per second or the inflow to the reservoir, whichever is less, for the protection and enhancement of aquatic resources in the Millers River.

The Cresticon Hydroelectric Project is owned and operated by L.P. Athol Corporation a Massachusetts corporation organized in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on March 18, 1986. The Athol Manufacturing Company originally developed the Upper and Lower Cresticon hydroelectric projects at the turn of the 20th century. The oldest part of the complex, which includes the “Lower Site” hydro, was built in 1899 with additions to the building made up until the 1950s. The Upper Site hydro was constructed in 1931 and is located across Chestnut Hill Avenue from the Lower Site.

The Union Twist Drill acquired the facilities in the early 1900s for the manufacturing of tools. In 1972 the Union Twist Drill Company and the property were acquired by Litton Industries of California, which remained in operation until it was closed due to labor strife in 1985. In 1985, the hydro project, including ownership of all project features, equipment, and water rights were transferred to Cresticon, Inc. a subsidiary of Litton Industries.

On November 10, 1986, Cresticon, Inc. filed an application to exempt the Cresticon Project from the licensing requirements set forth in Part I of the Federal Power Act. The comments of interested agencies and individuals, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state fish and wildlife agency, were fully considered in determining whether to issue the exemption from licensing. At that time, the buildings, property and hydro were purchased by the L.P. Athol Corporation.

The Federal Energy regulatory Commission issued an exemption for the continued operation of the Upper and Lower Cresticon hydroelectric projects to L.P. Athol Corporation effective February 12, 1988.

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Certification History

November 29, 2017: The 30-day appeal window closed for the preliminary decision of the Cresticon Hydroelectric project with no appeals to the decision received. The Recertification decision is therefore final.

The  new term of Low Impact Certification for the Cresticon Hydroelectric Project is March 3, 2017 to March 3, 2025.

October 5, 2017: The Cresticon Hydroelectric Project has received a Preliminary Certification Decision that they continue to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. The Certification is approved for an 8-year term. The Cresticon Hydroelectric Project Certification includes the following three conditions:

Condition 1. Within 60 days after certification, the Owner will provide documentation to LIHI verifying that the Project operated over the prior LIHI certification period such that required base and minimum flow were maintained.

Condition 2. The Owner will abide by MADFW’s current schedule of installing upstream eel passage at the Project, pending installation of such passage facilities at the two downstream Projects, New Home and Starrett. The Owner will provide updated status reports on installation of upstream eel passage at the downstream Projects and at the Cresticon Project in its annual filings with LIHI.

Condition 3. The Owner will continue to voluntarily limit the Project’s approach water velocity to 1.5 feet/second or less during the American eel downstream migration period throughout the new LIHI certification period. The Owner will provide documentation of compliance with the voluntary limits in its annual filings with LIHI.

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 “Cresticon Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 2, Lexington, MA, 02420.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on November 5, 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. Once final, the effective certification date for the Cresticon Hydroelectric Project is March 3, 2017 for an eight (8) year term, which will expire on March 3, 2025.

July 10, 2017: The Cresticon Hydroelectric Project has submitted a complete application for recertification. Public comment on the application is open until September 10, 2017. The full application is posted below under Files.

March 1, 2017: The Cresticon Hydroelectric Project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is September 3, 2017. See the extension letter for explanation below.

June 25, 2012: The Cresticon Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective March 3, 2012 and expiring March 3, 2017.

May 3, 2012: Public comment period on application has been closed.

March 3, 2012: L.P. Athol Corporation has submitted an application for certification of the Cresticon Hydroelectric Project. Public comment period has been opened for 60 days.

November 15, 2011: Melissa Grader with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that the Cresticon Hydroelectric Project has no history of compliance issues with respect to maintaining the required bypass flows.


2017 Recertification

2012 Certification