Andrew Fisk on Clean Hydropower | Connecting Point | Mar. 23, 2016

>> MOST OF US DON'T THINK MUCH ABOUT IT BUT HIDE HYDO-ELECTRIC DAMS ON THE CONNECTICUT RIVER ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PRODUCING A SIGNIFICANT SHARE OF THE HYDO-ELECTRIC POWER PRODUCED IN THE REGION NOW, SEVERAL OF THOSE FACILITIES, INCLUDING ONES AT TURNER'S FALLS AND NORTHFIELD MOUNTAIN, ARE UP FOR LICENSE RENEWAL

ANDREW FISK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CONNECTICUT RIVER WATERSHED COUNCIL IN GREENFIELD VISITED CONNECTING POINT TO TELL US MORE ABOUT THE LICENSING PROCESS AND THE GROWING NEEDS FOR THE KEEP ENERGY THE RIVER PROVIDES >> IT'S IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE REMEMBER THEIR RIVER MAKES ELECTRICITY THERE IS 13 IN TOTAL OF THE FACILITIES ON THE RIVER, AND MANY OTHERS ON THE TRIBUTARIES SO THIS GENERATES A LOT OF ELECTRICITY FOR NEW ENGLAND, AND WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE FAL, IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT IT'S THE PUBLIC'S RIVER SO WHAT WE'RE DOING, IT IS COMPLICATED AND LONG AND IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY A SIMPLE CONVERSATION WE WANT ELECTRICITY WE NEED ELECTRICITY

HYDRO-ELECTRICITY IS A GOOD SOURCE BUT IT HAS A TRADE-OFF, NOTHING IS PERFECT SO REALLY, THIS CONVERSATION IS ABOUT WE'RE GIVING THE COMPANY THE RIGHT TO CREATE A PUBLIC GOOD AND WHAT DO WE GET IN EXCHANGE FOR THE USE OF OUR RIVER AND HOW DO YOU MAKE THAT FACILITY HAVE THE SMALLEST ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT? SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE ROADWAYS AND THEY MAKE IT HARD FOR MIGRATORY FISH >> RIGHT NOW THE TOPIC OF HYDROPOWER COULDN'T BE MORE TIMELY GOVERNOR BAKER IS IN MASSACHUSETTS HAVE BEEN STRESSING THE NEED FOR RENEWABLE, NON-FOSSIL ENERGY, NON-POLLUTING ENERGY, HYDROPOWER IS AT THE HEART OF THAT, WE HAVE THE CONNECTICUT RIVER, AND I WAS SURPRISED, THESE FIVE DAMS, TALKING ABOUT RELICENSING NOW, RESPONSIBLE FOR 30% SOME OF THE HYDROPOWER USED IN NEW ENGLAND? DO HE HAVE THAT RIGHT? >> THAT'S ABOUT RIGHT

THE PERCENTAGES CHANGE, AND 11 TO 15% OF THE ENERGY COMES FROM HYDRO IN THE REGION AND THE FACILITIES ON THE CONNECTICUT GENERATE A LARGE PORTION OF THAT AND IT IS THE CONVERSATION THROUGHOUT NEW ENGLAND, HOW DO WE MEET THESE GOALS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY AND HYDROPOWER IS ONE OF THOSE, WIND, SOLAR, HYDRO, BIOMASS ARE DESIGNATED ASSESS RENEWABLE ENERGY, SO WE LOOK AT THIS CONVERSATION AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BOTH REDUCE THE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT, GET MORE PUBLIC BENEFITS, AND ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO GENERATE THE SAME OR MORE HYDRO ELECTRICITY >> AS PART OF THE WHOLE EFFORTING TO PEOPLE TO GIVE YOU SOME INPUT ON THIS, THEIR CONCERNS, ABOUT RENEWING THESE THAT'S SOMETHING GOING, AND CORRECT ME IF I GO THE DETAILS WRONG, BUT THE POWER OF WATER, THE POWER OF WORE AND YOU ARE, BASICALLY, ASKING PEOPLE, LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK, BUT YOU DON'T JUST WANT A PHONE CALL OR AN EMAIL, YOU BROUGHT ALONG SOME THINGS YOU COLLECTED, GOING IN VARIOUS PLACES AND ASKING PEOPLE, MAKE US SOMETHING THAT WE'RE GOING TO MAKE PART OF A HUGE ART DISPLAY

I KNOW THE PLAN IS TO PUT IT ON DISPLAY AT THE STATE CAPITOL BUILDING IN MONTPELIER, AND YOU BROUGHT SOME WITH YOU, BUT ONE IN PARTICULAR IS SO COOL CAN HE JUST — I WILL GRAB THIS AND ASK YOU TO HOLD IT AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT — THIS IS ONE NUMBER THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE, AND THIS ONE IS REALLY EXTRA SPECIAL >> THIS IS AN IMAGE WHERE A GENTLEMAN, WHO HAS TAUGHT HIMSELF THE OBNOCKY LANGUAGE, BUT WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING HERE, AS HE'S DESCRIBED THE RIVER AND THE TRIBUTARIES, IN THIS NATIVE AMERICAN LANGUAGE, AND SO, THIS PROJECT, THE POWER OF WATER AND WORDS, I THINK, IT'S SAFE TO SAY NOT MANY REALLY KNOW WHEN A RELICENSING IS HAPPENING SO WE WANT TO GET THE PUBLIC INVOLVED BECAUSE IT'S THEIR RIVER, AND JUST TO LET YOU KNOW THE VALUE OF JUST THE TWO FACILITIES IN MASSACHUSETTS, THOSE FACILITIES, TURNER'S FALLS, THEY GENERATE 1200 MEGAWATTS OF ELECTRICITY A LARGE AMOUNT AND THEY SOLD FOR NORTH OF 14 BILLION

SO THESE ARE LARGE COMPANIES, AND IN ECOLOGICALLY SOUND WAYS, SO RATHER THAN EMAILS OR A PETITION, WE WANT TO CREATE AN INSPIRATIONAL LARGE SCALE ART INSTALLATION SO WE ARE CHECKING A THOUSAND OF THESE STORIES ON THESE TORN PIECES OF COVER WEIGHT PAPER, AND THEY WILL BE INSTALLED AT THE RIVER OF WORDS, AND WE ARE GOING TO INSTALL THEM IN THE PLACE THAT IS DECISION-MAKERS CONGREGATE, SO THE STATE HAS IN VERMONT AND THEN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND BOSTON BECAUSE THE STATE, UNDER STATE AND FEDERAL LAW, HAS A VERY IMPORTANT SAY IN HOW THESE LICENSES ARE ISSUED, SO IT'S A STATE CONVERSATION AS MUCH OR MORE THAN A FEDERAL CONVERSATION AND SO WE'RE HOPING WHEN WE HAVE THESE DISCUSSIONS YOU ASK SOMEBODY, WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOUR RIVER? AND THAT EMPHASIZES OWNERSHIP AND ASPIRATION, AND THAT'S REALLY WHAT WE WANT TO GET, AND YOU GO THAT IN THIS FORMAT IN A MUCH MORE COMPELLING WAY THAN MORE EMAILS OR PETITIONS OR FORM LETTERS >> I WANT TO GO BACK TO SOMETHING YOU SAID A COUPLE MINUTES AGO SO INTERESTING, BEFORE YOU CAME IN, AND YOU MENTIONED THAT PUT A DAM ON A RIVER, YOU SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE THAT RIVER YOU DISCONNECT THE RIVER IN A WAY, AND NOT JUST FOR THE FISH WHO MAY NEED TO GO UP TO SPAWN OR GET DOWN THE RIVER TO FEEDING HOWEVER, IT MAY BE BEYOND ME, CREATES RESERVOIRS AND I DIDN'T REALIZE THIS, WHILE THAT MAKES A LOVELY RECREATIONAL AREA IT, WARMS UP A RIVER, AND THAT — THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT EVERYBODY NEEDS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU ARE RELICENSING THESE FACILITIES, RIGHT? >> EXACTLY WHEN YOU HAVE THE TYPE OF BOATING RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES ON THE RIVER, REALLY ARE DIFFERENT, WITH DAMS

SO YOU HAVE FLAT WATER BOATING OPPORTUNITIES BECAUSE YOU HAVE RESERVOIRS BUT ALSO ELIMINATE WHITEWATER OPPORTUNITIES AND THE FISH COMMUNITY WILL BE VERY DIFFERENT IN A FLOWING STRETCH OF RIVER GETTING WAS UTTER FROM A DAM RELEASE VERSUS IN THE RESERVOIR, SO IT CHANGES EVERYTHING, SOMETIMES WE SEE THAT AS A POSITIVE AND OTHER TIMES IT'S VERY MUCH A NEGATIVE AND SO THAT'S WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT THE CONVERSATION FOR A HYDROPOWER FACILITY, IT'S ABOUT BALANCE HOW DO WE BALANCE THE RIGHT TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY AND GENERATE A REASONABLE RETURN WITH RIGHT OF OUR OWNERSHIP AND USING THAT RIVER? AND THIS CONVERSATION ENDS UP WITH THE COMPANY PROVIDING ADDITIONAL PUBLIC BENEFITS IF YOU HAVE BEEN ON THE NORTHFIELD MOUNTAIN, THAT IS A FACILITY OPERATED AS A REQUIREMENT OF THE LICENSE BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT SAID YOU CAN DO THIS BUT WE WANT YOU TO PROVIDE THIS BENEFIT, SO THE COMPANIES WANT TO HEAR FROM THE PUBLIC WHAT DO WE WANT? AND IT'S COMING DOWN TO THAT NEGOTIATION AND BALANCING TEST

>> OVERALL WITH THINGS GOING ON NOW AND THINGS THOUGHT OF AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE, COMPARED TO YEARS PAST, ARE YOU COMFORTABLE THE RIVER IS IN GOOD SHAPE, CLEAN, AND LIKELY, TO REMAIN SO IF WE ALL STAY ON OUR GUARD? >> THE FEDERAL LAW, YOU THINK OF IT LIKE A RATCHET IT CAN'T GO BACKWARDS, AND NOW WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS THE CLEAN, BEAUTIFUL RIFERTION, WE NEED TO FILL THEM UP WITH FISH BECAUSE THE FISH ARE NOT IN THE NUMBERS THAT THEY USED TO BE, COULD BE, OR SHOULD BE >> ANDREW FISK, GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US THANKS FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING FOR THE RIVER

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