Letter: Fish migration
“A new course for the Conn. River” (Recorder, Dec. 6) notes that American shad runs above Turners Falls plummeted when Massachusetts deregulated Turners Falls Hydro and Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage in 1999, but increased in 2010 while the pumped storage was shut down during six months, which is the overlooked clue.
Since it became a merchant power plant in 1999, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage nightly buys cheap off-peak electricity from the New England grid to pump 108 thousand gallons of Connecticut River water per second from Turners Falls reservoir 800 feet up to the summit reservoir (equivalent to an 800-foot dam).
This water daily cascades back into Turners Falls reservoir, regenerating electricity during peak demand at peak prices, literally buying low and selling high.
Pumping 108 thousand gallons of river water per second during several nighttime hours sucks in and shreds all passing fish. Generation during several daytime hours blocks them with an equally strong tailrace current crossing the river and bouncing off the opposite shore.
Migrating American shad and Atlantic salmon are doomed by Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage.