Construction resumes on 1-MW Canton small hydroelectric facility in Connecticut

Construction has resumed on a 1-MW small hydroelectric facility at the Upper Collinsville Dam on the Farmington River in Canton, Ct., after the closing of construction loans, according to developer Canton Hydro LLC.

Once operational, the facility is projected to generate an average 4.3 million kWh of clean energy and save 3.2 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, while preserving a historic powerhouse, enhancing public safety features, and revitalizing aquatic habitat by allowing fish to swim upstream for spawning for the first time since 1867.

According to a press release from Connecticut Green Bank, the project is the result of significant expertise and innovation from many stakeholders, including the town of Canton, The Provident Bank, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and Connecticut Green Bank.

“Hydro projects like this one are very exciting for Connecticut,” said Bryan Garcia, president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Green Bank. “Although these projects require significant work and coordination, they provide a great example of how the Green Bank’s public-private partnership model works to leverage capital, revitalize Connecticut’s environmental infrastructure, and produce clean energy for years to come.”

This project is the culmination of more than a decade of efforts, including drafting of the Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act, a U.S. public law that was introduced into the 113th United States Congress, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 30, 2014. The bill allowed the town to take over the lapsed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses to refurbish two old dams. Originally constructed for hydropower that generated electricity for the former Collins Company factory, the site ceased generation in 1966. After a pre-feasibility study concluded the site could again support hydroelectric power, the town of Canton selected Canton Hydro through a competitive request for proposals.

The final requirement for the project was securing financing, which was accomplished through a creative partnership structure. The total project cost is about $6.6 million, with the Green Bank providing a $1.2 million subordinate loan and $500,000 limited guaranty to leverage an about $4.7 million senior loan from The Provident Bank through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan program. Additional equity is being provided by Canton Hydro.

The dam is owned by the state of Connecticut and the water rights will be leased to Canton Hydro over a 30-year period. Using the state’s Virtual Net Metering program, state-owned buildings through DEEP will benefit from the lower cost renewable energy.

The project will use a Kaplan turbine manufactured by Austrian company WWS Wasserkraft GmbH, which also will act as the turnkey solution provider and will supervise construction. A Denil Fishway passage to support the migration of fish into the Farmington River will be installed, along with a low-level fish guidance barrier to prevent fish swimming towards the primary spillway and guide them directly to the entrance of the upstream fish passage.

Canton Hydro was established in 2015 to redevelop the Upper Collinsville Hydro facility by a group of architects, engineers and investors passionate about revitalizing hydropower assets and preserving historic structures while improving the aquatic habitat.

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