In The People's Blog

On June 21, I wrote to constituents with key updates about FirstLight Energy’s hydro relicensing process.

Read on for the updates.


Energy Use

A number of you have raised important questions related to FirstLight’s energy use and asked about FirstLight’s use of fossil fuels, about the amount of energy consumed vs. generated in Northfield Mountain, and FirstLight’s role in the green energy transition. 

My colleagues in the western Mass delegation and I have channeled your concerns to MassDEP and in response, MassDEP worked with DOER to include information on these energy-related issues in the FAQ page on MassDEP’s 401 Water Quality Certificate (WQC) website. We have learned that FirstLight currently provides 50% of the state’s battery storage capacity — and we’re grappling with what that means relative to solar and battery storage siting concerns. We appreciate MassDEP for taking these concerns seriously and making as much information accessible to the public as possible. And we are absolutely grateful to constituents for your advocacy. 


MassDEP had commissioned a peer review of an erosion study which FirstLight had completed to ascertain the impact of FirstLight’s activities on the erosion of the banks of the Connecticut River. This peer review was just completed and is now available on both FERC’s website and MassDEP’s 401 website, see here. It is an important read as it raises some concerns with the initial study, while also recognizing other helpful data collected.

Public Comments

Thank you to everyone who attended MassDEP’s virtual public hearings on the WQC application on May 29, 2024. MassDEP is working with the UMass Donahue Institute to process all of the comments. We asked MassDEP about the timing of the release of all comments collected. As soon as this is complete, MassDEP will post all of them on the MassDEP website. Donahue Institute is also analyzing all comments and will generate a report. 

Fall Hybrid Public Information Session on the Draft WQC

MassDEP will host a hybrid Public Information and Q&A Session on the DRAFT WQC in September or October. As soon as we have more information about the date and location, we will share it with you. 

FERC intervention

On June 5, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Intent to file an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This is entirely separate from MassDEP’s process for the 401 WQC. FERC has the choice to file either an EIS or what’s called an Environmental Assessment. An EIS is typically filed for projects with more significant environmental impacts. FERC plans to issue its draft EIS in December 2024, hold a public meeting in January 2025, and comments will be due in February 2025.

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