The Energy Consumer's Bulletin- a New England energy news blog

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ReNewable Now: Hydro, Going Strong at the Birthplace of America's Industrial Revolution

Guest blog originally posted on ReNewable Now's website about our tour of the Pawtucket Hydro Facility on Nov 7, 2015.

It was back in 1793 with the completion of Slater Mill that America credits as the place and the year of the birth of the country's industrial revolution. All the machines that were used for producing the textiles that came from it were powered by an enclosed waterwheel that was contained within the mill itself. That waterwheel was powered by the Blackstone River, a river that has become known as "America's Hardest Working River."


A lot has changed over the last two centuries- Slater Mill is no longer earning its keep by producing textiles, but rather by becoming a leading tourist attraction, and the waterwheel is no longer powering the mill, but has become a main attraction.

Pawtucket_Hydro_Tour_2015-60.jpgBut one thing hasn't changed, and that is the fact that the Blackstone River is still "America's Hardest Working River" and is still producing power today. Our friends at People's Power & Light spent a fantastic day of showcasing what kind of clean energy the Blackstone is creating, and that's hydro. Along the banks of the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, RI sits very inconspicuously a  hydro-electric plant that is producing 1.35-megawatts of electricity.

The plant, which was formally managed by Charles Rosenfield, who was also a principal, is now owned by Gravity Renewables who acquired it back in April 2014. Representing Gravity Renewables and presenting that day was an old friend of ours Omay Elphick, Omay has been in the clean energy sector for a number of years having first began in solar energy sector some years back. One thing that we really liked that Omay did was help bring things into perspective. So many times, people just don’t know how to equate the actual significance of the electricity being created in a clean energy project. Omay made it very simple, he described, "basically 1.35-megawatts is roughly creating enough electricity power 600 homes." Omay also provided a first hand look at the facility by providing a guided tour to the facility.

We were very impressed to see Priscilla De La Cruz, and her team from PPL engaging local youths thru the Rhode Island Girl Scouts. The young girls where there to show off their artistic prowess while at the same time engaging in the learning and the discovery of clean energy first hand. If there is only one thing that may have been missed from the day’s event, it may have been some of those fantastic Girl Scout cookies. Our salute to all the folks at PPL for their hospitality that day.

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