Northfield Selectboard signs FirstLight agreement

  • FirstLight Hydro Generating Co.’s turbine hall at Northfield Mountain. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/19/2023 12:15:25 PM

NORTHFIELD — The Selectboard voted this week to sign the Flows and Fish Passage Settlement Agreement that FirstLight Hydro Generating Co. filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in late March.

Selectboard member Barbara “Bee” Jacque, who was appointed by Town Administrator Andrea Llamas to negotiate with FirstLight on behalf of the town, told her colleagues she believes the written agreement is in Northfield’s best interest.

“It’s been a very long process,” Jacque said when she made a motion to have the Selectboard sign the agreement. Heath Cummings seconded the motion. Sarah Kerns was the only one of the five members to vote against signing the agreement.

FirstLight, which previously submitted its application to FERC for a new 50-year license to operate, has three facilities up for relicensing. Environmental advocacy groups have criticized those facilities — the hydro-pump facility at Northfield Mountain and two hydroelectric dams in Turners Falls — for their impact on fish, the Connecticut River and the surrounding environment.

In a statement, FirstLight previously said the Flows and Fish Passage Settlement Agreement’s commitments, which include direct investments in environmental protection, will reduce future revenue for the company by more than $350 million over the course of a new, 50-year license adjusted for inflation.

“This agreement is a huge win for the environment by committing FirstLight to groundbreaking new investments to support and enhance the Connecticut River while protecting the critical role of these facilities in delivering electric system reliability and advancing the decarbonization of the electric grid in New England to combat the existential threat to our environment and our communities posed by climate change,” FirstLight’s Chief Operating Officer Justin Trudell previously said in a statement.

According to FirstLight Communications Manager Claire Belanger, the major differences between this licensing agreement and the agreement FirstLight received 50 years ago are the flow regime changes that will protect endangered species in the Connecticut River and the addition of fish passage facilities.

“Some of what is good here is the increase in flows, especially during fish migration that will offer better habitat and better migration,” Kelsey Wentling, river steward at the Connecticut River Conservancy, said previously.

On Tuesday, Selectboard Chair Alex Meisner thanked Jacque for putting in the work on this agreement.

“I cannot begin to tell you how much time and energy and stress” went into finalizing the agreement, she said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-930-4120.


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