In 1902, Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) was established through the purchase of a gas and electric plant from the Holyoke Water Power Company (HWP). The innovative city leaders and citizens of Holyoke saw ownership of a municipal utility as a way to stabilize rates and keep local control over their energy services. Almost 100 years later, on December 14, 2001, HG&E’s leadership seized an opportunity to establish local control over Holyoke’s renewable hydroelectric resources.
In 1999, Holyoke Water Power (HWP), a Northeast Utility Company and owner of Holyoke’s hydroelectric facilities, was in the process of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing for assets along the Connecticut River and within the Holyoke Canal System. At the time of this relicensing, there were several legal and legislative matters occurring in the investor owned utility and local municipal utility space, most notably the federal deregulation of electric markets, which forced investor owned utilities to disassemble monopolies and sell or move generation assets. After years of negotiation between HG&E and HWP, HG&E closed on a deal to purchase the Holyoke Dam and canal system, which has provided additional local control over utility rates and services within the city. Today, electrical output from the local hydro system provides approximately two thirds of Holyoke’s annual electricity use.
Since 2001, HG&E has made significant improvements the hydroelectric assets and associated facilities, balancing hydroelectric generation with protecting valuable natural, cultural, and scenic resources and providing public recreation facilities. In addition to operating a source of carbon-free electric generation and conducting various environmental studies, HG&E has made the following enhancements since its acquisition of the system:
In 2006, HG&E received the Outstanding Stewards of America's Waters (OSAW) award from the National Hydropower association. HG&E was recognized for extremely successful habitat enhancements related to the bald eagle population within the project area. The OSAW awards annually recognize deserving organizations in the hydropower industry for projects that exhibit exemplary operational, educational, historical, recreational, or environmental enhancement and stewardship.
Due to these resources, as well as HG&E’s diverse power supply portfolio, in 2021 Holyoke’s electric load was approximately 82% carbon-free. Over the years, HG&E has received several awards and designations that can be attributed to innovative and sustainable energy solutions, including:
Looking back on 20 years of ownership and operation of Holyoke’s hydroelectric resources, HG&E is thankful to the Commission, city officials, and the community for supporting ongoing investments in Holyoke’s hydroelectric infrastructure, environmental enhancements, and educational programming. HG&E will continue to provide competitive rates, innovative and sustainable energy solutions, reliable service, and excellent customer care.
Learn more about HG&E hydro operations and green initiatives.