Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act, legislation that would permit Canton, Avon, and Burlington to operate two small, currently inactive hydropower dams and generate locally produced power. Esty introduced the bill last Friday – her first bill as a member of Congress. Canton First Selectman Dick Barlow, a Republican, and then-5th District Congressman Chris Murphy, a Democrat, successfully worked to pass similar legislation in the House in 2010 and 2012. Both times, the Senate failed to take up the bill after passage in the House.
“I’m grateful to Senator Murphy and First Selectman Barlow for their years of dedication and hard work in advancing this important legislation, and I’m proud to join them in this bipartisan effort,” Esty said. “This project is a win-win – empowering local communicates in the Farmington Valley and moving our state towards a clean energy future.”
“We’re extremely appreciative of Congresswoman Esty for taking up this legislation in such a timely fashion,” said Canton First Selectman Dick Barlow. “We’re excited to be moving forward to a locally-operated, clean energy future.”
The dams are expected to produce nearly two megawatts of power, enough to power more than 1,500 homes.
Both the upper and the lower Collinsville dams are owned by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and licenses to operate the dams must be obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Federal legislation will provide Canton, Avon, and Burlington with the right to operate the dams by allowing for the reinstatement of existing but currently inactive FERC licenses.
The upper and lower Collinsville dams were built in the 18th and 19th centuries to power the Collins Company. The Collins Company, which manufactured axes, closed in the 1960s.
The legislation would also ensure that the river’s health is fully protected by requiring FERC to complete an updated analysis of the environmental impact of the projects and seek additional public comment before taking action.
The Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act must be passed by the full U.S. House and Senate and signed by President Obama before the town can take over the licenses.