Middlebury gives its support to local hydro project

MIDDLEBURY — The town of Middlebury selectboard has sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) confirming its support for what is being called the “Middlebury Upper Hydroelectric Project,” a water turbine that would be installed near the Otter Creek Falls.
The letter comes in the wake of the recent signing of a nonbinding term sheet between the town selectboard and Middlebury Electric, which is spearheading the project at the Middlebury Upper Falls site on the westerly side of Otter Creek in the downtown. That term sheet specifies conditions the project will need to abide by to meet the expectations of the town and Middlebury Electric.
The project calls for a 1.6 mW or 2,145-horsepower generator that, based on conservative flows, would manufacture 10 million kWh of electricity — enough to power 2,000 American homes or 4,000 European homes due to energy use patterns, according to Anders Holm, principal of Middlebury Electric.
Holm and his family have been working for several years to bring the project to fruition. But the town and Middlebury Electric have encountered some disputes along the way relating to water rights and other issues.
Now it appears those issues have been resolved.
“The town fully supports the re-development of hydropower at this site and is hopeful that a significant amount of clean, renewable energy will once again be produced for the benefit of the community,” reads the letter, signed by all seven Middlebury selectboard members and sent to Kimberly D. Bose, secretary of FERC. “We look forward to working with Middlebury Electric toward that end.”
Holm, in an email to the Independent, said he is optimistic the project is now on a good path.
“I am very encouraged by the new momentum the restoration project is gaining,” he said. “I hope our progress continues through the spring and summer. We are working on the final revisions of the FERC application and expect to have a public hearing this summer prior to the issuance of the license.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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