Fair Haven commissions hydro power study
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | January 11,2013
FAIR HAVEN — Town officials want to know if they can power municipal buildings with hydro power from three dams located along the Castleton River.
The Select Board this week awarded a $10,000 bid to Hartland engineer John “Jay” Boeri to study the feasibility of hydro power production.
Boeri’s proposal was the only bid received by the town for the feasibility study, but the town’s energy committee said the proposal included exactly what the committee requested and recommended it to the board. It will be funded by money appropriated by voters at two town meetings, the most recent in March 2012.
The dams along the Castleton River are not owned by the town, but in the last two years the town has considered seeking a quit-claim deed on them. Town officials have hesitated to move forward on that, citing insurance cost concerns.
The new study is the second commissioned by the town on the dams. Several years ago the Select Board commissioned a study by Earthbound Systems that outlined three approaches to installing hydro power along the river.
Energy committee member Robert Richards said that earlier report, while it stated the town could generate power from the river, did not provide specific details as to how the town could achieve it.
The scenarios ranged from $1.6 million to $3 million — numbers that Richards said they could not present to town voters.
Richards said the new study by Boeri will be specific and technical, and will give the town a recommendation on whether to go forward with any potential hydro projects. He said the final report will also give specific costs that indicate whether the projects are feasible for the town.
“We would have everything but final engineering,” Richards said. “That is what we asked for. It will tell if we can do it or not.”
According to the energy committee, Boeri will work in partnership with Ben Gordesky of Earthbound Systems in Burlington to conduct the study.
“The guy knows his stuff,” Richards said.
The energy committee also looked into the possibility of generating hydro power at the town’s water treatment facility, but the water flow was not high enough to make it feasible.