In The People's Blog

On Earth Day, I wanted to share a few updates with you regarding FirstLight Power’s hydro relicensing process. Read on to learn more.


As many of you are aware, FirstLight Power has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to relicense its two hydropower facilities on the Connecticut River: Turners Falls Dam and Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage facility.

401 Water Quality Certificate process getting underway

As a state legislative office, my team and I have been laser focused on the portion of this process that involves the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) issuing a 401 Water Quality Certificate (WQC). As we’ve shared before, any conditions established by MassDEP in the WQC will be incorporated into the final FERC license. 

FirstLight is required to file its WQC application with MassDEP by Monday, April 22, 2024. As soon as FirstLight submits its application, MassDEP will begin to review it to make sure it is administratively complete (meaning that it meets all the requirements of an application). Once MassDEP has determined that it is administratively complete, the agency will post a notice on its website dedicated to the relicensing and submit it to FERC. 

MassDEP has one year to issue a WQC from the date that FirstLight submits an administratively-complete application. For example, if the application is complete on April 22, 2024, the one year clock will start on that date. 

FirstLight has ten days from when it submits an administratively-complete application to issue a public notice of a public hearing. The hearing will occur approximately 30 days after the public notice. This notice of a public hearing also kicks off the Massachusetts public comment period on FirstLight’s application which will last for 35 days. The delegation is urging FirstLight to issue this notice as soon as possible in the ten day window to the widest audience possible (it has to pay for public notices in newspapers) to give the maximum number of constituents ample time to prepare.

MassDEP website – sign up for updates! 

At the request of constituents, and amplified by the delegation, MassDEP set up a website dedicated to the relicensing which it is updating frequently. This website is a tremendous resource for western MA communities, constituents, advocates, and anyone wishing to have their voices heard in this public process. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to sign up for email updates on MassDEP’s website. Any time MassDEP updates its website, it will send out a notice to its email list, so this is a great way to stay up to date. 

An FAQ, timeline, and video explainer

At the request of constituents and amplified by the delegation, MassDEP published a timeline, FAQ page, and video explaining the process through which the public can engage in the 401 WQC process. 

Commenting to FERC directly on the relicensing

FERC’s comment period on FirstLight’s Amended Final License Application has been extended to May 22, 2024, so there is still time to comment! 

In addition to its focus on the state process, the delegation is in the process of sending a public comment to FERC during this public comment period. 

FERC has an instruction page on how to submit a comment on a particular project here: If you wish to send in a comment, you will need to include the docket numbers for each of FirstLight’s facilities. These are: Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project (P-2485-071) and Turners Falls Dam (P-1889-085). 

We will share the delegation’s comment and continue to share updates as we have them and welcome you to be in touch with questions, concerns, and suggestions. 

My team and I are grateful for your deep and continued engagement and advocacy. Your voices are absolutely critical.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search