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Public Statements

Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ESTY. Thank you, Congressman Luján. And I'd like to thank Chairman Whitfield for his leadership on this important issue and for bringing this bill to the floor so quickly this year.

I rise as the proud sponsor of the Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act. This bill, as the chairman so aptly described, would provide FERC limited authority to license the Town of Canton, in my district, to operate two small and dormant dams for hydroelectric power.

The Upper and Lower Collinsville dams on the Farmington River were first built in the 18th and 19th centuries to power an ax manufacturer. While this business closed in the 1960s, the dams have remained and are a lasting symbol of the Farmington Valley's very proud manufacturing history.

And just as our communities have been reinvented over the years, we now have the opportunity to reinvent a dormant dam into a dam producing local, clean energy. If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, under the authority of this bill, permits both dams to generate hydropower, the dams could produce nearly 2 megawatts of power, enough to power more than 1,500 homes, which I'll note, parenthetically, with 3 feet of snow in the last week, were much in demand, that additional power. Licenses for this purpose had previously been issued, and this bill would allow the reinstatement of the inactive FERC licenses.

Now, as with any dam on any river, there are legitimate concerns about the river and the ecosystem's health. The Upper and Lower Collinsville dams already exist, and our legislation addresses many concerns to fully protect the river's health by requiring FERC to complete an updated analysis of the environmental impact of the projects and seek additional public comment before taking action.

Now, this project started long before I was elected to Congress, and I'm proud to continue the work on this bill. Just a few months ago, this body passed the exact same language offered by then-Congressman Chris Murphy, Connecticut's new Senator. He's been a longtime champion on this issue, and I'm grateful for his and First Selectman of Canton Richard Barlow's work spearheading these efforts back home.

I would also like to mention another longtime supporter of this project, Art Fournier. Sadly, Art passed away this past July. But during one of the occasions I had the opportunity to discuss issues with him and gain from his lifetime of experiences, he brought up this bill to enforce upon me how important it was. He was committed to public service and to ensuring that the world was a better place for the next generation. His commitment to public service was evident from his service on many boards and commissions in the town of Canton, including on the Hydro Power Advisory Commission.

Another strong advocate for this project also, sadly, died this summer, Mark Quattro. Mark, too, made us aware of the importance of this project for the little town of Canton, and he was deeply committed to the community and served on many town organizations, including the chamber of commerce. It would be a fitting tribute to honor these two fine citizens of Canton, Art Fournier and Mark Quattro, by passing this bill today.

I'd like to thank, again, Chairman Whitfield, as well as Chairman Upton and Ranking Members Waxman and Rush and their staffs for bringing the Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act to the floor today for a vote. This project has a long history of bipartisan support at the local level, and I'm proud to be working with my colleagues across the aisle to empower local communities to utilize existing resources to create locally produced clean, renewable power. I respectfully urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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