Skidmore College and Gravity Renewables partnered in 2014 to restore a historic small hydro facility. Skidmore now meets approximately 18% of its electricity demand with this clean, renewable energy source.
Skidmore College and Gravity Renewables, saw a unique opportunity for partnership in an artifact of the industrial revolution in the Hudson Valley. A small dam, originally built in the early 1800s, sat on an existing fault line and waterfall in Stockport, NY at Chittenden Falls on the Kinderhook Creek, but years of inadequate funding threatened the future of the historical dam. Gravity Renewables purchased and revitalized the facility while Skidmore minimized the risk for Gravity Renewables by committing to purchase the power produced by the facility for twenty years. Recent state legislation around remote net metering – meaning that electricity can be generated in one location and credited toward consumption at another location – made the deal possible.
This project truly exemplifies sustainability in that it simultaneously improves environmental, social, and economic well-being. This small hydro facility takes advantage of a natural abutment, which means that there is very little risk to the surrounding natural and built environment and is a clean source of power. In addition, this facility provides important economic benefits to the Stockport community by increasing the town’s tax base and other local spending. This project also preserves a piece of our cultural heritage. There is an inter-generational pride associated with historic infrastructure like this, and there are many positive social benefits to keeping these facilities alive.
Chittenden Falls and the power house at the small hydro facility – photo taken by Caroline Hobbs
Skidmore students inside the power house at the small hydro facility – photo taken by Eric Jenks
Participants at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the small hydro facility, including Mike Hall, former Director of Financial Planning & Budgeting at Skidmore; Paul Lundberg, Assistant Director of Construction Services at Skidmore; Linda Toohey, Chair of the Skidmore College Board of Trustees; Omay Elphick, Director of Business Development for Gravity Renewables and alum of Skidmore College; Paul MacCormack, Gravity Renewables Operator of the Chittenden Falls small hydro facility – photo taken by Eric Jenks
Historic sign at the small hydro site – photo taken by Karen Kellogg
We would like to acknowledge the following people for their help with the development of this webpage:
Andy Camp, Director of Web Development at Skidmore College
Alex Chaucer, Instructional Technologist at Skidmore College
Neale Donovan, Student Assistant in the Instructional Technology group at Skidmore College
Omay Elphick, Director of Business Development for Gravity Renewables and alum of Skidmore College
Connie Frisbee Houde, History Collections Technician at the New York State Museum
Ben Harwood, Instructional Technologist at Skidmore College
Paul MacCormack, Gravity Renewables Operator of the Chittenden Falls small hydro facility
Diane Shewchuk, Executive Director and Curator at the Columbia County Historical Society