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Re/Subject: Request for robust public hearings on FirstLight hydro relicensing
Dear Secretary Theoharides,
I am writing today to request that there be a robust series of public hearings for the Water Quality Certificate being sought from the Department of Environmental Protection by FirstLight Power to complete their relicensing application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This license is needed by FirstLight in order to continue to operate the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project and Turners Falls Hydroelectric Project.
Across the Commonwealth, there is a lot of concern about FirstLight’s operations because of the many known negative impacts on the Connecticut River. In Massachusetts we have the opportunity, with the Water Quality Certificate, to create the conditions under which FirstLight can operate. This is our only opportunity to curtail and repair many of the damages their operations have forced on the Massachusetts portion of the river.
FirstLight’s relicensing application is for facilities built 50 years ago. Since they are requesting that this license be valid for another 50 years, thought must be given now to the likelihood that the climate crisis will cause many changes in that time, and while many cannot be known, fluctuating water availability and temperature changes should be anticipated.
For these reasons, I also feel that the spirit of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act requires MEPA involvement and urge that office to become involved. Given the historic and negative effects these operations have had on the river’s embankments and its animal inhabitants, I believe it is imperative that MA EEA & DEP invite as much input as possible into the issuance of the Water Quality Certificate. In the Clean Water Act, the federal government gave us this one measure of leverage in dealing with FERC’s licensing power. We must use it judiciously.
I look forward to having the opportunity to have my concerns heard at these requested public hearings. I feel the public should weigh in on suggestions of acceptable “conditions” under which FirstLight could operate.
I would appreciate having my name and email address added to any list intended to inform the public of hearings and related actions.
Thanking you for your time, I am
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