Putting Water to Work

Hydropower harnesses the force of moving water to create electric power. It is far less expensive than fossil fuels or nuclear energy, and does not contribute to greenhouse gases, although there are environmental concerns involving the effects of reservoirs.


The main advantage of hydroelectric dams is their ability to handle seasonal and daily peak demand. When demand slows, hydroelectric sites store water, and when demand jumps, more electricity can be generated.


Hydroelectric power does not always require a dam, though, and “run-of-the-river” projects use only portions of the stream flow.  These projects have virtually no adverse environmental impact.


Connecticut Gets Its Feet Wet
Connecticut's numerous rivers and streams provide the perfect environment to develop small hydro projects designed to ensure fish passage and maintain the ecosystem. In May 2007, The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund approved a loan of $557,134 to help fund the demonstration of a new 500-kilowatt hydroelectric turbine system at Kirby Mill in Mansfield. The WAM turbine is highly efficient; can operate under more diverse river flow conditions than other turbines; can be inexpensively produced, installed, operated and maintained in “run-of-the-river, low head” conditions; and is modular and scalable in design. It uses a “fish friendly” propeller and has no hydraulic systems or oil-filled gear boxes, and it will give developers a clean and cost-effective way to harness a river’s renewable energy.