TOWNSHEND -- There is a new owner for two developing hydroelectric projects on the West River.
But the top administrator of New Jersey-based Eagle Creek Renewable Energy said both projects -- at Townshend Dam and Jamaica’s Ball Mountain Dam -- will stay on schedule.
That means new turbines are expected to be generating power by the end of next year.
"We’re very much looking forward to getting on the ground there and starting construction," said Bud Cherry, Eagle Creek chief executive officer.
Eagle Creek announced this week that it had acquired Plainfield-based Blue Heron Hydro LLC, the company that has spent years nursing the hydroelectric projects through the planning and permitting stages.
Earlier this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued 50-year operating licenses to the two projects.
And both are already under way: In information accompanying its acquisition announcement, Eagle Creek said construction of turbine and generator equipment has started at Obermeyer Hydro Inc. in Colorado.
Construction at the dams is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013, and the projects should be in service by the third quarter of the year.
Those deadlines are important for several reasons: First, the schedule must be kept to maintain long-term power-purchase agreements through the Vermont Sustainably Priced Energy Development program.
Also, a federal grant in lieu of tax credits
Cherry said he could not disclose the amount of federal financing available. He also said the projects’ cost is proprietary and cannot be released.
But administrators have said turbines at the two dams, both of which are operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, will turn out a total of 3.1 megawatts of power using water that’s already flowing through the structures.
The hydroelectric projects’ size was a key factor in Eagle Creek’s acquisition.
The company and its subsidiary, North American Hydropower, own 29 operational hydroelectric facilities. But administrators said the West River initiatives will be Eagle Creek’s "first pure development project."
"We didn’t really want to start with a 30 megawatt or a 40 megawatt project," Cherry said.
He also said Blue Heron’s projects fit well with Eagle Creek’s strategy.
"A major piece of our business plan going forward is to add generation to existing Army Corps dams," Cherry said.
Cherry added that company leaders wanted to establish a "foothold" in northern New England.
"It’s relatively near a cluster of facilities that we already own in New York state in the Catskills," he said. "That will allow us to achieve some economies, particularly in maintenance."
Cherry credited Lori Barg, Blue Heron’s president, with investing considerable time and resources into developing the projects.
"Lori and her team did everything they could to keep moving everything forward," he said.
And he pointed out that, while Eagle Creek may be new to hydroelectric development, its staff -- including Cherry himself -- is not.
"The individuals have a huge amount of development experience," he said.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.