The Mountain Times

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CVPS takes over hydro dam

More hydro power is coming to central Vermont.

PROCTOR - The Central Vermont Public Service Corp. (CVPS) has purchased the Vermont Marble Power Division from Omya for $28.2 million, and plans to increase the dam's generating capacity.

The facility is on the Otter Creek in Proctor, at river mile 64.2, with dams at river miles 21 (Huntington Falls) and 23 (Beldens).

"We're planning significant improvements," said CVPS spokesman Steve Costello. "It's not producing close to capacity."

The dam is capable of generating 18 megawatts of power, the equivalent of power needed for 18,000 homes. Costello said the company is relicensing the dam in preparation for the upgrade, as required by law.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice to the effect on Nov. 18.

"We are in the early stages of reviewing their amendment application," said FERC spokeswoman Celeste Miller in an e-mail. "Once we deem the application complete, we will issue another notice seeking public comment on the amendment application. This will be followed by a complete environmental review of the proposal."

According to its application, CVPS plans to, among other things, put in new turbine generators, new controls, and new relays, as well as increasing hydraulic capacity from the current 890 cubic feet of water per second to 1,150 cfs. A permanent bridge to the plant will also be built. Similar improvements will be made at the other two dams.

The company is also proposing some environmental changes, including improving the existing take-out for canoe portage at the Beldens dam, and expanding public recreational use at the Proctor site, according to the application. This means making the view better and putting up interpretive signs for the public to learn more about the historic Vermont Marble Company and local cultural history.

Costello said CVPS would spend another $15 million to complete the upgrade.

"It'll produce a little more than 20 megawatts, with a net benefit for everybody," Costello said. "We'll produce electricity at a very competitive rate. There's a huge appetite for renewable energy in Vermont."

Tropical Storm Irene, which blew through Vermont at the end of August and caused a great deal of damage, didn't hurt the dams, Costello said.

"Most of the damage was on the eastern side of the state," he said. "Generally speaking, most small-scale hydro doesn't have a lot of flood control."

Anyone wishing to view the full amendment should go to www.ferc.gov using the eLibrary link and enter docket number 2558.

Tagged: Hydro power, CVPS