MERIDEN — The hydroelectric dam project at Hanover Pond recently received certification from the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing environmental impacts of hydropower dams.
New England Hydropower Co. installed an Archimedes screw turbine at the Hanover Pond dam in 2016 and began generating power in 2017. Water flowing through the system turns the large 35-foot screw to generate power. Fish and other aquatic life can safely pass through the large pockets of water taken in by the screw.
"We are extremely gratified to have our Hanover Pond Hydropower facility certified by LIHI. It is an important milestone for both the site and the technology," said Michael Kerr, CEO of New England Hydropower, in a statement on the company website.
The certification process took two stages. First, New England Hydropower had to complete an intake application, which the institute reviewed for any red flags. Next, the company completed a final application, which was posted on LIHI’s website, social media and shared via email to open it up to a public comment for 60 days.
“We had a process that took some time,” company spokesman Christian Conover said.
After an independent reviewer looked at the report and supporting materials, it went to the staff at the institute. Shannon Ames, the institute’s executive director, made the preliminary decision to certify.
“The bottom line is that the project has to meet each one of the eight criteria and if they do that, they qualify,” Ames said. “This project did do that.”
The eight criteria are: ecological flow regimes, water quality protection, upstream fish passage, downstream fish passage and protection, watershed and shoreline protection, threatened and endangered species protection, cultural and historic resource protection and recreational resources.
After Ames made her decision, an appeal window lasted 30 days. The final decision to certify the project came on Jan. 6 after no appeals were filed.
The certificate term is Aug. 12, 2019 to Aug. 11, 2024, with an option to extend to Aug. 11, 2027.
“They also have the potential to earn a plus standard, which is three additional years on the term and that specifically is for fish passage,” Ames said. “They need to continue doing some studies on how the fish passage is going.”
While the Hanover Pond Dam Project is on the City of Meriden’s property, it is not a city owned facility.
“The screw has been in for three years,” said Howard Weissberg, director of public works. “The city is receiving virtual net metering credit… It happens to be on city property, with the city receiving the benefits of it.”
The dam began generating power in 2017, but then stopped working for several months in 2018 after a mechanical malfunction caused damage and getting parts took some time. It has been running again since late July 2018.
Since then, Conover said the project is going smoothly.
“It is running very well,” he said.