New England Hydropower Company, LLC (NEHC) recently announced that it has energized the first Archimedes Screw Turbine (AST) generation facility in the United States at the Hanover Pond project in Meriden, Connecticut. The facility, financed with a combination of public and private capital via the first official “Green Bond” issued by the Connecticut Green Bank (Green Bank), is expected to generate 920,000 kWh of electricity annually to Meriden under a long-term agreement with the City.
NEHC was given approval to energize to the Eversource distribution system in the first quarter of 2017. This follows electrical interface and controls integration, and a successful “witness” test establishing the project’s ability to provide power to the grid.
The Power Purchase Agreement with Meriden takes advantage of Connecticut’s virtual net metering regulations. As a qualified Class I renewable energy producer, the project participates in Connecticut’s Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit Program (ZREC). These two state programs, when taken together with the Green Bank’s innovative use of federally supported New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to dramatically reduce the project’s capital costs, are now allowing the City of Meriden to benefit from lower cost energy while at the same time going green.
The modern AST integrates automated electronic monitoring, controls, and safety systems. It is a proven technology with over 100 generating systems in Europe and the UK derived in concept from the ancient world.
A primary environmental advantage of the run-of-river system is that it provides safe downstream fish passage in the slow rotating screw turbine with limited turbulence at the exit. Working with state and federal natural resource agencies, NEHC is conducting migratory and resident fish studies at the adjacent fish passage at Hanover Pond to augment highly successful studies in the UK.
“Our goal from the inception of the company,” said Michael Kerr, CEO and Founder, “was that success at Hanover Pond would lead the way to market acceptance of the AST technology in the U.S.” The company researched thousands of legacy dams from the industrial revolution to determine ownership, assess technical, regulatory and commercial viability.
“We believed from the outset that our work with regulatory agencies to understand their requirements and work toward streamlining our processes,” continued Kerr, “would be essential to improving our pathway to developing green energy in the small-scale hydro sector.”
Following the permitting process, NEHC mobilized for construction at the site in September 2016, and the sluiceway, powerhouse and screw trough were all completed to accept machinery in December 2016 for operation in April 2017.
“When we started this project, we embarked on a journey with many challenges. 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,” said Bert Hunter, EVP & Chief Investment Officer, Connecticut Green Bank. “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.‘
“Now that we’ve done this first one,” Hunter continued, “the Green Bank looks forward to future success in financing the development of more of Connecticut’s small-scale hydro resources.“