August 24, 2017

Hydropower Comes to Belchertown

Carolyn Melley, Web and Media Fellow

A water pipeline and conduit hydropower turbine project was recently completed for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the McLaughlin Fish Hatchery in Belchertown. Funded by grants from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the newly constructed pipeline and conduit has revolutionized how the hatchery operates and offers considerable energy benefits.

Instead of pumping water from the river, the new pipeline relies on gravity to move water from the aqueduct to the hatchery, which drastically decreases energy usage. Thanks to the inclusion of the MassCEC funded conduit hydropower turbine, the pipeline is actually generating up to 400,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy annually. As of August 14, 2017, the turbine was fully interconnected to the local power grid and began sending clean energy to the grid and receiving renewable energy certificates.

The new pipeline, which started operating at the end of 2016, sources its water from the Chicopee Valley Aqueduct. This is a considerable improvement for the hatchery, which used to get its water from the nearby Swift River. The aqueduct, on the other hand, is a year round source of high quality, cold water, which ensures that the hatchery produces the healthiest fish possible. After the hatchery is done using the water it goes into the Swift River, so the river benefits too.

With benefits for the hatchery, the environment, and the grid, this project has been a rousing success and MassCEC is proud to have been a part of it!