Rep. Joe Courtney discusses dam repairs with NPU

As part of his regular communications with Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) on their operations and investments, Congressman Joe Courtney has expressed an interest in the 8th Street Hydro Facility on the Shetucket River.

“With so much focus on federal investment in critical infrastructure, I am interested in learning more about this interesting and important component of NPU’s Electric Division,” said Courtney. “My team and I will be researching federal programs that could help NPU take better care of this unique and important asset.”

The current Greenville Dam was built on the Shetucket River in 1882. The Shetucket River combines with the Yantic River in Norwich to form the Thames River, which flows south 15 miles to Long Island Sound.

NPU’s hydro facilities are an important part of its history and connection to the community. While the technology behind the facility may seem rustic, the structure remains very reliable; newer equipment or a replacement dam would not necessarily be an improvement for our operations.

This NPU hydro facility generates approximately 2.2 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power approximately 2,000 homes for a year. By generating this electricity on its own, NPU saves its customers approximately $900,000 a year on energy that we don’t have to purchase.

The NPU hydro facility allows us to provide our customers with energy produced from renewable resources. When combined with the electricity from our solar gardens and the power we purchase from CMEEC, the electricity we provide our customers is nearly 20% renewable – and we do not charge our customers a premium for this benefit.

Given the challenges of low water levels in the summer and ice floes in the winter, the NPU hydro facility is in operation about 8 months out of the year.

The timber cribs are filled with gravel and arranged in three sections – upper, middle, and lower; NPU maintains and repairs approximately 1/3 of the timber gates annually, investing approximately $150,000 – $200,000 a year.

A major upgrade to this facility would require an investment of approximately $2.5 million, which would allow for newer, more durable materials to be installed – which, in turn, would reduce the costs of our regular maintenance.

NPU is committed to providing Congressman Courtney with regular updates on the hydro facility in the weeks and months ahead.