Wilder Dam, the major hydro power dam influencing the Connecticut River in the Upper Valley, straddles the river between Lebanon and Hartford. The dam impounds (backs up) the river for 45 miles upstream, and receives drainage from a 3,375- square-mile watershed in New Hampshire and Vermont. Wilder’s three turbines have a combined generating capacity of 42 megawatts.
Connecticut River Management Plan’s Recommendations for Wilder Dam
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should
- institute a “ramping rate” at Wilder Dam in the next operating license, to reduce soil piping in the riverbanks of the impoundment and to minimize negative effects on aquatic and riparian habitat.
- include a provision for emergency gate operation, such as in the context of a “black start” when the dam is needed to provide immediate power in case of a blackout.
- assess possible effects of sediment build-up behind Wilder Dam and the extent to which it has affected flood storage capacity.
- require the company to maintain discharge at run of river levels at periods of low flow in the next FERC license, to protect aquatic life downstream.
- Local citizen groups should participate in the re-licensing process for Wilder Dam.
- We share historical licensing and amendment information below, gathered from the Great River Hydro Wilder Dam page. A full history of the dam’s amendments and a map of all GRH sites can be found on that site.
- For background on Wilder Dam and its influence on the Connecticut River system in our area, we share excerpts from the Connecticut River Water Resources Management Plan for the Upper Valley Region, published by the Connecticut River Joint Commissions in 2009. This plan, created by citizens of Hanover and other NH river towns from Lebanon to Piermont and their Vermont neighbors from Hartford to Bradford, is a blueprint for stewardship of the Connecticut River. For information about the Connecticut River Joint Commissions and the Connecticut River Management Plan, contact Rachel Ruppel at the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission (UVLSRPC): 603-448-1680. Find the full plan on the web at www.crjc.org.
Relicensing updates from the Connecticut River Conservancy:
The federal operating license for Wilder Dam expired in 2018. The companies had been expected to submit final “revised” applications in April, but Great River Hydro has an extension until July 31 and FirstLight until August 30th, 2020.