The Board of Selectmen Wednesday night unanimously agreed with a committee's recommendation to solicit proposals from companies willing to join the town's efforts to bring back hydroelectric power to the upper and/or lower Collinsville dams.
With the vote, the town will send out a Request for Proposal for companies willing to construct, finance and operate the dam at its own costs and recoup its investment by selling back electricity to the town or other entities over the life of the contract.
While stating that it would not obligate the town in any way Energy Committee Chairman Matt
Stone told selectmen it could really benefit
from the expertise and funds an established hydro company could
"Clearly we need professional help," he said. "It’s a herculean undertaking."
"We are not beholden to anything in this RFP," Stone added. "If nothing looks good, we’ll wipe the deck clean and start again."
Stone added that companies, both small and large,
have already come forward and presented ideas to the committee.
The investment would be attractive, officials said, because a company would have access to energy credits and the dam itself if the town is successful in its efforts to get permanent licenses from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Officials said the town also has the ability to qualify for virtual net metering, which allows municipalities to get full retail credit (rather than wholesale) for generated power.
The dams were operated by the Collins Company from the
early 1900s until it closed in 1966.
First Selectman Richard Barlow has been a strong advocate of
bringing power back to one or both and says numerous residents are very
interested in the project. Others have been critical of the town’s involvement.