FirstLight Power Resources, owner of the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project, is considering expanding generating capacity at the plant and utilizing unused water-storage capacity in the project’s upper reservoir as it begins a five-year long relicensing process with the federal government.
Northfield provides stability and capacity to New England’s power grid by using electricity at night, when use is low and rates are cheap, to pump water from the Connecticut River to the upper reservoir atop Northfield Mountain. Then, during the day when power is needed, the Northfield station reverses course and lets that stored water flow back down through its turbines to generate electricity.
Fisk said Northfield today functions largely to store power from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt. But in the future it might serve to store power from renewable sources like wind.
“There is a growing interest in these pump storage facilities around the country that are tied to green power,” he said. “They might serve as batteries for wind.”
As it stands now, the Northfield project has a generating capacity of 1,119.2 megawatts. The more traditional hydroelectric stations in Turners Falls have a capacity to generate 67.7 megawatts.
Taken together, that is be enough power for about 1 million average homes.