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Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006

Meetings scheduled on proposed hydro project for West River

BRATTLEBORO—Two meetings regarding two proposed hydropower projects to generate electricity using existing dams in Townshend and Jamaica will take place on May 11 in the Maria Lawrence Room at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center in Brattleboro.

The public is invited to attend the meetings at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The meetings have been called by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in order to prepare a single environmental assessment for the projects at the Ball Mountain and Townshend dams.

Plainfield-based Blue Heron Hydro LLC, the project designer, has won water safety approval from the state Agency of Natural Resources and is now in the process of gaining permits and licensing from more than a half dozen federal and state agencies that regulate projects potentially affecting environmental conditions, including air, water, fish, and wildlife habitats.

At a recent meeting, the Townshend Selectboard endorsed the project.

The two proposals, with a current cost estimate of $10 million, were given a boost by a $30,000 grant from Central Vermont Public Service. The Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund also chipped in $50,000 in study grants. Half of that funding came from federal stimulus money.

The two sites are expected to generate a total of about three megawatts, or enough electricity to power 3,000 typical Vermont homes.

The dams are owned and operated by the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers. That agency will continue to run the two West River flood control dams when the turbine projects are completed.

Further information about the project may be obtained by calling Blue Heron at 802-454-1874, or the town clerks’ offices in Townshend (802-365-7300) and Jamaica (802-874-4681).

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Originally published in The Commons issue #100 (Wednesday, May 11, 2011).

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