5.1 New England Power (Now USGen PG&E), Deerfield River, Vermont and Massachusetts - FERC # 2323
Project Description: This project includes 8 power or storage dams, plus a pump storage project covered by a separate license. It is used for peak power production with a total capacity of 85 MW and influences over 66 miles of river. The original license contained over 18,000 acres in the project boundary. A comprehensive settlement was negotiated with 14 organizations and state and federal resource agencies in 1994.
Magnitude of Lands Protection: The settlement included the permanent protection from development of 18,350 acres through permanent conservation easements. Because the lands are both in Vermont and Massachusetts, the easement holders differ in each state, with the Vermont Land Trust holding the bulk of the lands in Vermont and a state agency to hold the lands in Massachusetts. An agreement was also worked out for the utility to provide an endowment to the easement holder to meet their long-term monitoring and enforcement obligations with the easement.
Mechanism of Protection: Permanent conservation easements that exclude development with agreed upon forestry, wildlife and recreation plans were used to protect the lands. Over 2,000 acres around the pump storage project were protected with a term easement with the conditions to be renewed upon relicensing of that project at its future relicensing date.
FERC Involvement: This was one of the earlier settlements and so FERC took a somewhat distant approach to it, only commenting on it through the final licensing process. There were several disagreements between the license issued and the settlement, which were worked out through post-license filings. The signing parties to the settlement and the dam owner worked together jointly to resolve the problems with FERC.
Current Status:The license was issued in April 1997 and the conservation easements are in place.