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Meriden’s Archimedes Screw could be fixed later this spring

MERIDEN — Investors say the Archimedes Screw should be turning again in a few weeks after a mechanical malfunction took the hydroelectric dam out of commission in February. 

“We’re on track for getting it back up and running later this spring,” said Ben Healey, director of clean energy finance for the Connecticut Green Bank.”

The 20-ton steel screw turbine was installed in the Hanover Pond dam in December 2016 by New England Hydropower Company. The technology is attributed to the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes and generates power by harnessing the gravity of water falling through the screw to turn it. The $4.5 million project was financed by the Connecticut Green Bank through a low-interest 20-year loan plan. 

The dam is reportedly the first of its kind in the U.S. and is supposed to generate 920,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, producing $20,000 in savings a year in energy costs.

The screw has not functioned since Feb. 5, when firefighters responded to the site for the report of a loud noise and smoke coming from the facility.

“There was a combination of failures in terms of getting the screw to stop turning so there had to be manual intervention to do it,” Healey said. “The nice thing about having a problem early is things are under warranty and things are  covered by insurance.”

The company pulled an electrical permit to install a temporary vehicle-mounted diesel generator to supply lighting and power for repair in March.

New England Hydropower spokesman Christian Conover did not return a request for comment. 

Healey said the project is in no danger of defaulting as insurance will cover the disruption in power generation. Loan repayments for the project are about $175,000 a year, Healey said. 

“From a long-term perspective we still have real confidence in the project and the project team,” Healey said. “It’s an idiosyncratic set of circumstances that we’re putting in an extra level of fail safes for.”


Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ


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