To honor Earth Day on April 22nd, we will be posting a blog each week to share some Stewart’s environmental sustainability initiatives we have in place.
Did you know that small hydropower projects are sprinkled throughout many of the same communities as Stewart’s Shops? Hydropower is the original renewable energy that has been an important source of electricity, jobs, and economic development for generations. Stewart’s is proud to be using hydropower, which is simply using flowing water to generate electricity, to power our shops. For a deeper explanation about the technology, click HERE.
Stewart’s Shops has partnered with Gravity Renewables to purchase hydroelectricity generated at the Comtu Falls project located in Springfield, Vermont to offset the power used to run all of our 9 Vermont shops! Comtu Falls is a Low-Impact Certified hydropower facility that has been generating power for over 36 years in a historic mill building. Our partnership with Gravity allows them to reinvest in the project with local spending on wages, property taxes, electricians, welders, local machine shops and contractors.
“Stewart’s Shops and Gravity are both committed to building stronger communities.” said Gravity Representative, Omay Elphick. “Small hydropower, like Comtu Falls, does far more than just provide clean, reliable power. Stewart’s benefits from the power while simultaneously ensuring the long-term viability of this climate-friendly resource.”
About Comtu Falls:
This hydro facility is located along the Black River Valley town of Springfield, VT. This dam was originally built in 1902 and hydropower equipment was installed in 1987. Its name is said to mean “Great Noise” representing the roar of the various drops along the Black River that was harnessed for local industry and hydropower. Gravity Renewables purchased the Comtu Falls hydroelectric facility in 2014 and Stewart’s started using this hydropower September 2019.
This facility, located in downtown Springfield, was once a 10,000 sq ft shoddy mill that used to turn wool remnants into felt products like hats, blankets, etc.
Comtu Falls is a certified Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI). LIHI is a 501(c)(3) focused on reducing the impacts of hydropower through monitoring and certifying projects that have avoided or reduced environmental impacts based on specific criteria. Basically, Comtu Falls is a dam that minimizes environmental impacts. This certification is based on 8 criteria which are: Ecological flow regiments, water quality protection, upstream and downstream fish passage and protection, shoreline and watershed protection, threatened and endangered species protection, cultural and historic resource protection, and recreational resources. To learn more about LIHI certification click HERE. To learn more about the LIHI Comtu Falls Project Certificate #124 click HERE.
Hydroelectricity Power in the Northeast:
Working with Gravity Renewables and Comtu Falls has been an extremely powerful partnership. This is because Stewart’s follows a similar landscape pattern to hydropower facilities. Many of our shops are located in original hydropower towns. Over the years, Stewart’s Shops and legacy dams have played significant roles in their respective areas. Working with each other has been beneficial in terms of community support and energy offset.
Interesting Facts About Gravity Renewables & Hydropower Electricity:
- Did you know? There are over 90,000 dams in the United States but most were not built to generate power. In fact, only 3% of all dams currently make power. While few new dams are being built in the U.S., there are opportunities to repurpose non-power dams.
- There are thousands of existing hydropower projects across the United States, some which have operated for over 100 years. In the northeast, many small hydropower projects were built during the industrial revolution. Gravity Renewables works to install new equipment or update the old equipment at sites in order to make these dams useable for years to come.
- Each hydro project is unique to their area. You have to model the dam around the flow of the water and the landscape.
- Hydro is said to be more predictable than other renewables because there is a constant flow of water, and you can track water levels/rain flow.
- Due to unpredictable weather patterns such as cloud coverage, wind, snow, and day/night light exposure solar panels generate power about 20-30% of the time. Hydropower generates power about 60-80% of the time.
- According to the EIA, the top three states that had the highest hydroelectricity generation in 2021 were:
- Washington – 70,442 million kWh
- Oregon – 28,361 million kWh
- New York – 27,973 million kWh
To learn more about Stewart’s Eco-Responsibility click HERE.