State Awards grants to test, prototype and deploy renewable energy technology in Holyoke Text Size

Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) and Power Development International (PDI) have been awarded a $212,000 grant by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to further advance the commercial-scale deployment of high-efficiency, low cost hydrokinetic turbines in a collaborative effort with HG&E. The project will use small hydrokinetic turbines to produce more power at slower water velocities, which allows the devices to make beneficial use of the otherwise wasted energy in naturally flowing water in canals, inland waterways, and downstream of conventional hydropower stations. 
PDI was awarded $100,000 through MassCEC’s InnovateMass Program for the testing and demonstration of its innovative hydrokinetic technology in the Holyoke Canal System. HG&E will receive $112,000 from MassCEC’s Commonwealth Hydro Program to complete a velocity study and subsequent hydrokinetic model of its hydro system and to identify additional potential hydrokinetic deployment opportunities.
Power Development International (PDI), a Framingham-based clean energy company, has developed small hydrokinetic turbines that produce 10 kW each of reliable, baseload power. The turbines are designed to be cost-effectively deployed in arrays in canal systems throughout the country at nameplate capacities of several Megawatts at a time. The Holyoke project is slated to be installed in spring 2019, and testing will last approximately six months, providing critical performance data on a variety of operating conditions in a location where it can be commercially deployed.
“We are excited to validate the performance of our newly designed turbine blades in a live operating environment” said Thomas Feldman, PDI’s Co-Founder and CEO.  “PDI’s process of ‘Combined Cycle Hydropower’ (i.e. recapturing the wasted energy that exits hydro station tailraces) will improve hydropower cost and efficiency characteristics akin to the combined cycle natural gas revolution of the 1990s” he said. “PDI is grateful to MassCEC for its support and looks forward to partnering with HG&E to design cost effective ways to extract the latent kinetic energy flowing through the Holyoke Canal and HG&E’s conventional hydro stations” said Feldman.
“By supporting this project, we are able to help a young Massachusetts company pursue groundbreaking advancements in hydropower technology while partnering with an innovative municipal utility to develop a test bed for data collection and analysis,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “Massachusetts is home to a variety of small hydro resources, and projects like this demonstrate the Commonwealth’s ability to drive advancements in this industry.”
HG&E, a municipal utility in Holyoke, Massachusetts, will work with Alden Labs in Holden, Massachusetts to conduct a velocity analysis of the Holyoke canal system and Hadley Falls Station tail race. This data will be used to develop a hydro system model that allows for analyses relative to projected hydrokinetic turbine performance.  This model is an additional step in HG&E’s ongoing initiative to establish the Holyoke Canal System as a test bed for hydrokinetic demonstrations, with the long-term goal being commercial hydrokinetic development in existing hydroelectric station tailraces.
“This is a perfect example of the HG&E Clean Energy Test Bed Initiative meeting its objectives of attracting clean energy research and development activity, establishing a local manufacturing presence to help the local economy, and ultimately adding new clean energy to our portfolio helping to reduce our carbon footprint” said Jim Lavelle, Manager of the Holyoke Gas & Electric.
PDI will manufacture the turbine in Holyoke and use local design and engineering resources from Cofab Design, a downtown Holyoke-based firm, to complete the project.
“This is a very exciting project for us” said Mike Stone, a partner at Cofab Design.  “We have past experience and an ongoing interest in small-scale hydropower systems, and we specialize in developing technology towards commercialization – to be able to apply all of this in our backyard and work with this coalition of partners is an amazing opportunity.”
The collaboration between the Holyoke Gas & Electric and PDI is the most recent initiative in a series of efforts to increase Holyoke’s position as a test bed for clean energy technologies:
  • In 2013 the Holyoke Gas & Electric obtained a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to more easily test hydroelectric technology in the canals. The permit allows Holyoke to deploy test technology without requiring companies to go additional, lengthy and costly permitting processes.
  • In 2014, HG&E used the expedited permitting process to work with Pioneer Valley Renewables (PVR). This project demonstrated the effectiveness of PVR’s hydrokinetic shroud design.
  • Holyoke hosts the largest utility-scale battery storage system in Massachusetts as part of the largest community solar project. The 3 MW system was installed by ENGIE and will become fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • In 2017, the City completed the demolition and cleanup of the Parsons Paper site, facilitating the expansion of AEGIS Energy, a manufacturer of high-energy-efficiency Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engines, including an on-site utility scale solar project. This year AEGIS has merged with Dalkia, part of the EDF companies, and is expected to start it’s building reconstruction at the former Parsons site in early 2019.
“PDI’s prototyping has already created a positive economic impact by engaging Holyoke companies and HG&E’s study will be a broad leap forward to deploy new technologies that benefit all Holyoke rate payers” said Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. “We’re all very grateful to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center for being a valuable partner in Holyoke’s resurgence as we continue our leading role in advancing clean energy and environmental stewardship.”
About Power Development International (
Power Development International (PDI) is a hydrokinetic technology and project development company headquartered in Framingham, Massachusetts. Founded in 2015, PDI partners with utilities, independent power producers, and large consumers of electricity to implement hydrokinetic programs that make beneficial use of existing infrastructure to generate low-cost baseload renewable energy. PDI has patented turbine and blade designs, as well as a patented method for scaling its units into optimized arrays that minimize the efficiency loss typically associated with farms of hydrokinetic turbines.
About Holyoke Gas & Electric: Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) is an innovative, municipally-owned utility that was formed in 1902.  Today, HG&E provides electricity, natural gas, and fiber optic telecommunications services to over 18,000 customers.  For more information, please visit
About MassCEC
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is dedicated to growing the state’s clean energy economy while helping to meet the Commonwealth’s clean energy, climate and economic development goals. Since its inception in 2009, MassCEC has helped clean energy companies grow, supported municipal clean energy projects, and invested in residential and commercial renewable energy installations creating a robust marketplace for innovative clean technology companies and service providers. MassCEC constructed and operates the Wind Technology Testing Center and the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal.  Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton chairs MassCEC’s board of directors.

Posted on October 19, 2018 by