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Ancient technology in Meriden’s Hanover Pond dam begins generating electricity

Ancient technology in Meriden’s Hanover Pond dam begins generating electricity

MERIDEN — The Archimedes screw turbine recently installed in the Hanover Pond dam is now generating electricity.

New England Hydropower Company, which installed the technology of ancient Greek scientist Archimedes to transform the dam into a hydroelectric generator, announced Thursday that power was being generated for the first time. The company claims the Hanover Pond dam is the first Archimedes screw generation facility in the country.

“Our goal from the inception of the company was that success at Hanover Pond would lead the way to market acceptance of (Archimedes screw turbine) technology in the U.S.,” said Michael Kerr, CEO and founder of New England Hydropower.

The turbine, installed in late December 2016, is expected to generate 920,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually for Meriden under an agreement with the city. The agreement is expected to save the city $20,000 a year in power costs and property taxes over 20 years, city officials have previously said.

The project’s electricity will be fed into the Eversource Energy grid. The city the buys the electricity back with vouchers expected to save $298,000 over 20 years. Over the same 20 years, the property taxes are expected to total over $100,000. The city didn’t have to pay for the installation of the hydropower technology.

The 20-ton, 35-foot-long steel screw generates electricity when water at the top of the dam is sent through the screw, causing it to rotate at about 30 revolutions a minute. The screw alone cost about $750,000 and was manufactured in Holland, Kerr said. Fish and other aquatic animals can travel safely through the screw, according to Kerr. The company is working with state and federal environmental agencies to conduct migratory and resident fish studies at the fish passage at Hanover Pond to compare with “highly successful studies” in the United Kingdom, where the technology is already utilized.

Construction began last September, when Hanover Pond was drained. The pond was restored to its natural level earlier this year.

“For Meriden to be the first city in the nation to install something like this, I think is going to be a model for not only the state but for others to come and see how efficient and effective the screw is going to be at generating power,” Mayor Kevin Scarpati told the Record-Journal after the screw was installed. “It’s a measure of savings, but above that also help put Meriden on the map in a positive way.”

Kerr has previously praised city officials for their participation in the project.

“Meriden’s attitude and support has been extraordinary right from the onset,” Kerr said. “Everything takes longer than you think, but they’ve been with us the whole way.”

The project was financed with a combination of public and private capital through a “green bond” issued by Connecticut Green Bank.

“When we started this project, we embarked on a journey with many challenges,” said Bert Hunter, chief investment officer for Connecticut Green Bank. “This was not a large transaction by any of the typical measures — project cost, kilowatts, the footprint of the project — but its significance as an innovative financing solution can’t be overstated. Transformational projects like this hydropower initiative at Hanover Pond in Meriden require collaboration among many partners, including NEHC as developer and the team from Bank of America who led the bond structuring and purchase on their end.”


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