Bear Swamp Project
The Bear Swamp complex, completed in 1974, is on the Deerfield River in Rowe and Florida, Massachusetts. Bear Swamp comprises an underground pumped storage generating station and two conventional hydroelectric stations with a combined maximum capacity of 625* megawatts.
New England Power Company developed Bear Swamp to meet the expanded peak load periods when New England's electricity consumers place the heaviest demand on the system. In the process, a large tract of land on both banks of the river was opened to public recreational use.
The major generating units are twin, reversible pump turbines planted deep within the hillside on the south bank. Operating in unison, they produce a maximum of 600* megawatts of peaking power. During low demand periods, they are reversed to pump water 770 feet from the lower to the upper reservoir to a height of 1600 feet above sea level for storage until needed at the next peak period.
Fife Brook Dam rises 130 feet across a 900-foot span to form the lower reservoir. Fife Brook Dam's powerhouse generates 10* megawatts.
The new Deerfield Number Five generating station, fed by a canal system from upriver, replaces one of the original Deerfield hydro stations, whose site is now under the water of the lower reservoir. Number Five generates 15* megawatts.
In addition to power generation, Bear Swamp contributes importantly to river flow control, in periods of high as well as low water. Recreational opportunities have been greatly enhanced in the area. Hiking, fishing, hunting, and picnicking are available free to the public on Company property.
An underground Visitors' Center opposite the underground powerhouse at Bear Swamp provides an automated display and slide show as well as other information and displays regarding the history of the project and its site. More than 60,000 guests visit Bear Swamp each year.
*Nameplate Capacity Rating. Actual power produced may be more or less depending on conditions.