For more than 2,000 years, humans have captured the power of moving water to produce energy. Hydropower facilities harness the natural energy of flowing and falling water to generate electricity.

The West Branch of the Farmington River is the site of two MDC operated hydroelectric power facilities: the Goodwin and Colebrook Facilities. They provide a significant source of clean, renewable energy while maintaining regulated and obligated downstream flows to protect the Farmington River’s important fish, wildlife and recreational resources.

The two facilities are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC project licensing provides oversight of hydroelectric facility construction, operation, safety and environmental monitoring.


MDC’s Goodwin Hydroelectric Facility is located at the Goodwin Dam, a 135-foot high structure that holds back the West Branch Reservoir. This plant is equipped with two Francis style turbine/generators, each capable of producing 1,695 kilowatts (KW). These are located in a conventional powerhouse on the downstream side of the dam.

The water is delivered through a 400-foot long penstock, which flows to the turbines and starts the electrical generation process. The water used to create that electricity is then returned to the river through the tailrace channel.

The Goodwin Facility generates 13,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in a typical year, enough to serve 2,000 homes.


MDC’s Colebrook Hydroelectric Facility is located at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Colebrook River Dam and Reservoir. While flood control is the primary purpose of the Colebrook River Dam, the reservoir is also used for recreation, maintenance of Farmington River flows, and the generation of hydroelectric power.

MDC’s Colebrook Facility is equipped with two sets of 3 Kaplan style submersible turbine/generators, each set capable of producing 1,500 KW. The turbines are not contained in a conventional powerhouse, but are located under water on the upstream side of the dam-making Colebrook one of the country’s most unique hydropower facilities. The Colebrook Facility generates enough electricity to serve 1,000 homes-approximately 5,000,000 kilowatt hours annually.


Hydropower projects do more than just produce electricity – they support healthy fisheries, create wildlife habitat, provide water supply and flood control, and make available a wide variety of recreational opportunities for the public.

MDC is committed to protecting and enhancing the natural and recreational resources of the Farmington River and works cooperatively with local, state and federal agencies and organizations toward that end.

The MDC is a member the Farmington River Coordinating Committee whose mission is to ensure the long-term stewardship of the Farmington River – Connecticut’s first federally-designated Wild and Scenic River.