Massachusetts grants $1 million to three small hydro projects

The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust awarded $1 million in design and construction grants for rehabilitation and upgrades of three hydropower projects totaling about 800 kW.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles announced grants for projects in Winchendon, Clinton, and Orange, all of which meet Green Communities Act requirements for investment in hydropower. (HNN 7/15/08) The act calls for the trust to make annual grants of up to $3 million to upgrade efficiency or capacity and reduce environmental effects of hydro plants built before 1998.

The three project operators submitted applications in response to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s call for applications through its small hydropower initiative. (HNN 8/6/08) The collaborative administers the Renewable Energy Trust Fund.

165-kW Tannery Pond

The trust awarded a $325,000 construction grant to French River Land Co., which plans to repair the dam, tailrace, and powerhouse of Tannery Pond (No. 8895) in Winchendon. The company also plans to replace generation equipment and controls.

The new total capacity will be 165 kW. The project is expected to generate about 350 MWh of incremental power. The work is to be completed in about a year.

154-kW Wachusett

The trust awarded a $375,000 design and construction grant to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which plans to install new generation in the historic Wachusett Dam’s lower gatehouse in Clinton. The facility generated electricity in the early to mid-20th Century.

When complete, the facility will have 154 kW of generating capacity and will generate more than 780 MWh annually. The project requires a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and will take about three years to complete.

487-kW Mini-Watt

The trust awarded a $352,172 design and construction grant to Mini-Watt Hydroelectric LLC for the Mini-Watt project in Orange, which involves replacing an existing turbine with one better suited to the site, and adding new controls.

When the project is complete, it will have 487 kW of capacity, and produce about 350 MWh of incremental generation. The work is expected to take 18 months to complete.

New call for grant applications seen in 2009

The grants, announced Jan. 21, will result in the generation of 1,500 MWh of clean electricity annually, enough to power nearly 200 homes. All projects require a minimum applicant cost-share of 25 percent.

�Hydropower is an important renewable energy resource for the commonwealth,� Bowles said. �These three grants will restore electricity generating capacity to dams that have not been producing electricity and improve efficiency at those that are underutilized.�

The trust said it anticipates issuing another solicitation for grant applications in 2009. Funds for the trust come from renewable energy charges on electric bills, which generate about $25 million each year to support renewable energy installations and company expansions in the state.

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