Study of Barton, Vermont Hydroelectric Potential

Senator Sanders on Barton Hydro

At a Oct. 26, 2014 Hinesburg Vt. forum with Gov. Shumlin and other Vermont Representatives and State Senators, was asked to comment on Barton Vermont’s exploration of small hydro at Crystal Lake Falls. This is his response…

Scully1Hydro Success Story Bill Scully Shared His Secrets in Barton on October 29th

ScullyScreengrabBill Scully’s life changed one Christmas about 7 years ago when listening to the radio. An NPR story about Vermont’s potential for hydro-power caught his attention and changed his life’s path…

Read more on the HydroBlog (and to see a video tour of the Bennington hydro facility with Bill Scully here).

At the Oct. 16 and 17th Renewable Energy Vermont “RE 2014” Conference and Expo in Burlington Vermont, this was Gov. Peter Shumlin’s response when he was asked for his message to Barton as it re-examines hydro power at Crystal Lake Falls:


ShumlinAwardPicture1Gov. Shumlin received a special award and recognition from RE 2014 Chair, Jeff Forward. In accepting, the Governor provided an electrifying summary of important environmental/energy strides Vermont has been making as well as the still urgent challenges posed by global warming.

See Mr. Forward and Gabrielle Stebbins, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont presenting the award to the Governor and his summary here:

Personal thanks from Ed Helm to the High Meadows Fund for its scholarship assistance enabling him and many other citizens active in their town energy, planning and faith based organizations (like VIPL) to attend this valuable Conference.

Oct. 30th Tour of Newport Hydro Operation

Picture of Newport Hydro Facility Great Bay Hydro Corporation has kindly offered the Barton Hydro Committee a tour of their Newport Hydro Operation on October 30, 2014 at 10:30 am in Newport. Mark Hinton, Manager of Hydro Operations, is organizing the tour. Members of the public are welcome to take the free tour with members of the Barton Hydro Committee, on a space available basis. People wishing to car-pool should meet in Barton at the Senior Center, 17 Village Square, Barton, at 10:00 am (beside the C&C Market).

To register or find out more, please call Adrien Helm at (802) 525-3740.



We welcome you to an environmental adventure in the NorthEast Kingdom of Vermont (an area Rated #1 Geo-tourism Destination in the United States by National Geographic Traveler Magazine).

Our Barton Vermont Hydro website explores:

Harnessing the Power of Crystal Lake Falls- Hydropower: By, For, and Of the People

The history of well-being in Barton is connected to the history of harnessing the power of Crystal Lake Falls. When it was harnessed and used effectively, Barton and its citizens prospered.

Meryl Painting
Meryl Lebowitz won the “Power and Splendor of Water” Award (sponsored  by BartonHydro Project and funded by Bill and Maria O’Brien) for this painting of Crystal Lake Falls she created at the Greater Barton “Plein Air” event on 9/27/14.

Barton Village Trustees and numerous citizens agreed that it is time to revisit the question of tapping the water power at Crystal Lake Falls to provide a renewable, dependable, local power supply for both emergency situations and as a check on higher power costs. Additionally, can Barton attract eco-tourists, visitors, and other sources of living wage jobs by “Greening” its power creation and image?

Since about the end of World War II, the water power of Chrystal Lake Falls has not been tapped. Can and should Barton join Burlington’s recent achievement of operating wholly on sustainable energy by creating a hydroelectric facility at Chrystal Lake Falls?

In 1985, a significant engineering study was conducted to explore developing a hydro facility where a legacy of four dams rapidly drop Crystal Lake 89 feet to the Barton River. It concluded that for about $400,000, a significant portion of the electrical needs of the Village could be produced with a small hydroelectric power plant. At a time when interest rates were at 10%, a decision to proceed was not adopted.

On June 10, 2013, led by Trustee Chair David White, Barton Trustees established a Planning Committee to take a new look at how hydropower at Crystal Lake Falls might benefit Village citizens and report its findings in October. The Trustees appointed the Barton Village Administrator and Ed Helm, a resident of the Town of Barton, to organize and Co- Chair this Barton Hydro Re-Examination Committee.

A positive initial report was presented to the Barton Trustees October 13, 2013 as well as requesting additional time to finalize a report and recommendations pending the award and completion of a Vermont Municipal Planning Grant (MPG). A MPG was subsequently awarded by the Vermont Department of Housing & Community Development to Barton in December 2013. This $24,127 MPG is to assist Barton to afford technical and expert help to decide whether or not to go forward with a hydro power project at Crystal Lake Falls.

This website provides information about the previous hydro studies and activities of the Hydro Committee and actions being taken with resources provided by the MPG.

The Hydro Committee and Project continues to seek volunteers with a variety of skills, from engineering and technical, to educators, social media people, historians, finance, fishing and sportspeople—even skeptics.

Falls by Ed Barber
Photo by Ed Barber

Even if the Trustees ultimately decide not to pursue hydro development, carefully compiling and reporting past Barton hydro decision-making will help future hydro considerations and Barton.

Comments or offers of help are welcome at [email protected].

Ed Helm,

Barton Hydro MPG Administrator