FirstLight Power Files Recreation Settlement Agreement for the Relicensing of Turners Falls and Northfield Mountain Hydroelectric Projects
Northfield, MA – June 13, 2023 – FirstLight Power (FirstLight) has filed a Recreation Settlement Agreement (Agreement) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relative to the relicensing of the Turners Falls Hydroelectric and Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Projects, located on the Connecticut River in Western Massachusetts. The Agreement follows a decade-long process involving comprehensive stakeholder engagement, collaboration, and negotiation to reach consensus on measures to enhance public recreation at the Projects through construction of new recreation sites, upgrades to existing sites, placement of conservation restrictions on lands abutting the Connecticut River, and coordinated programmatic efforts to deliver sustained benefits to both residents and visitors to the region.
Signatories to this Agreement include FirstLight, the National Park Service, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, the Towns of Erving, Gill, Montague and Northfield, Massachusetts, Access Fund, American Whitewater, Appalachian Mountain Club, Crab Apple Whitewater, Inc., New England FLOW, Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition, and Zoar Outdoor.
“As a proud Franklin County business, FirstLight is thrilled to deliver this Recreation Settlement Agreement, the product of extensive collaboration with dozens of stakeholders, that will enhance recreation opportunities, increase accessibility, and deliver new attractions in the region,” said Andy Brydges, Director of Community Relations for FirstLight. “We’re grateful for the substantial commitment of time and resources made by the signatories to this Agreement, and we look forward to continued partnership in the future as we work together to generate excitement and activity in Franklin County.”
Through the Agreement, both residents and visitors will enjoy new recreation facilities and significant upgrades at existing sites in the area. New recreation experiences to look forward to include new public park spaces with viewing locations and picnic areas, new campsites with paddle access, miles of new trails for mountain biking on Northfield Mountain, and new access points to the river at many popular recreation sites to support easier access to activities like fishing, boating, whitewater boating, canoeing, kayaking, and picnicking. To augment the visitor experience, FirstLight will install historical and interpretive cultural signage at key locations in consultation with local Tribes and town officials, establish Rose Ledges as a Project recreation facility to ensure continued use of the area for rock climbing, implement measures to improve river access for recreation users at Poplar Street and provide daytime safe-keeping for canoes and kayaks at Barton Cove. Any new construction or upgrade of recreation sites will comply with state and federal disability access standards, and FirstLight will conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing recreation facilities for consistency with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requirements and implement identified improvements.
In the interest of conserving the natural beauty around the Projects and to safeguard the long-term use of the areas, FirstLight will place conservation restrictions on over 761 acres of land that it owns along the Connecticut River. In consultation with the Town of Montague, the company will also evaluate Cabot Camp for opportunities to preserve the historic structures or repurpose the property for recreation, should preservation not be possible. And, going forward, to promote the recreational use of the Project areas, FirstLight will provide real-time and forecasted data on water levels and flows on a publicly available website.
Appreciative of its significant role as steward of these remarkable Franklin County resources, FirstLight, through the Agreement, has committed to conducting a comprehensive review of recreation at the Projects every ten years to evaluate ongoing use and demand. FirstLight and its partners will collaboratively identify any necessary updates to the Recreation Management Plan, to continue delivering positive recreation experiences for residents and visitors of Franklin County throughout the term of its next license.
FirstLight, through an off-license agreement, will partner with interested signatories to assemble a Recreation Advisory Group and establish a process to discuss recreation use at the Projects and operation and maintenance needs arising between the comprehensive ten-year reviews. The Advisory Group will also be responsible for overseeing FirstLight’s efforts to work with local partners to promote use of its recreational facilities. To ensure equitable access to and use of its spaces, the company will work with the Advisory Group to identify and implement methods to reach key audiences including environmental justice communities, Indigenous communities, those with disabilities, visitors to the region, residents, and local communities and organizations.
Additional off-license provisions intended to further strengthen and complement recreation opportunities in the region include the installation of an additional pocket park in the town of Northfield to deliver an added public space for gathering, and the placement of conservation restrictions on a portion of Farley Ledges, a popular rock climbing attraction, to protect long-term access to the area for recreation.
ABOUT FIRSTLIGHT POWER
FirstLight Power (FirstLight) is a leading clean power producer, developer, and energy storage company serving North America. With a diversified portfolio that includes over 1.6 GW of operating renewable energy and energy storage technologies and a development pipeline with 2,000+ MW of solar, battery, and offshore wind projects, FirstLight specializes in hybrid solutions that pair hydroelectric, pumped-hydro storage, utility-scale solar, large-scale battery, and offshore wind assets. The company’s mission is to accelerate the decarbonization of the electric grid by supporting the development, operation, and integration of renewable energy and storage to meet the world’s growing clean energy needs and deliver an electric system that is clean, reliable, affordable, and equitable. Based in Burlington, MA, with operating offices in Northfield, MA, New Milford, CT, and Oshawa, ON, FirstLight is a steward of more than 14,000 acres and hundreds of miles of shoreline along some of the most beautiful rivers and lakes in North America. To learn more, visit www.firstlightpower.com or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Andy Brydges, Director, Community Relations
Cell: 860-549-3373, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Travis Small, Slowey McManus Communications
Cell: 617-538-9041, Email: email@example.com