The Recorder – FirstLight convening stakeholders in September to speak leisure enhancements

Published: 08/17/2021 6:07:51 PM

As part of the process of relicensing its three facilities on the local section of the Connecticut River, FirstLight Hydro Generating Co. is reaching out to stakeholders who will meet starting September to discuss recreational improvements.

FirstLight’s licenses, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), are valid for 50 years and locally govern a water pumping facility in Northfield Mountain and two hydropower plants in Turners Falls.

The recreational aspect of re-licensing particularly affects Montague, Gill, Northfield and Erving. In its re-licensing application, FirstLight suggests several expansions to existing recreation areas as well as several new or changed recreation areas. The final license application includes more than $ 5.6 million in recovery improvements as part of the relicensing.

Carter Wall, manager of government affairs and community relations at FirstLight, said in an email that licensing was a federal process that “linked FirstLight’s application with other upstream dam re-licensing applications owned by other companies.” After the license expired in 1968, extending the company’s stake in Turners Falls Dam for another 50 years was a process that spanned several years.

“It was at least a seven-year process,” noted Walter Ramsey, Montague’s town planner.

While discussing the stakeholder meetings during a Gill Selectboard meeting on Monday, Ray Purington, Gill Town’s administrator, said he plans to attend the first meeting related to the settlement process on behalf of Gill on September 10 at 10 a.m. on behalf of Gill and Camping , Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, and downtown Turners Falls development / inspection of fishways. Three possible follow-up meetings are planned for September 30, October 15 and October 29.

The Selectboard discussed development requests, such as the possible implementation of a new public park on the Gill side of the Connecticut River. The members decided to use the first stakeholder meeting to assess their future engagement. Purington said that “the presence of the Conservation Commission would not hurt” for the meeting.

In addition to inviting city officials to collaborate, Wall said in an email that “FirstLight has held over 80 stakeholder meetings with state, local, regional, recreational groups, environmental organizations, indigenous communities and organizations”.

Wall also noted that the state’s Department of Environment “has requested the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend the process through November 2021 to give FirstLight more time to involve stakeholders, a request that FirstLight endorsed.”

You can reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, extension. 261 or [email protected].

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