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As the official start to summer begins and the weather heats up, FirstLight urges the public to exercise caution when enjoying recreational activities including boating and swimming.

Northfield, MA and New Milford, CT – July 2, 2024 – Following recent extreme heat and ahead of Fourth of July activities, FirstLight, a leading clean power producer, developer, and energy storage company, highlighted the significant role that clean energy and energy storage facilities play throughout the region while underscoring summer safety considerations as the public enjoys the many recreational activities available in and around FirstLight home communities. 

During the recent extreme heat, FirstLight facilities – including the Northfield Mountain and Rocky River Pumped Hydro Storage Stations – were called on by ISO New England to help meet the needs of the region’s electrical grid during peak demand. Large-scale energy storage, and particularly pumped hydro facilities of which there are three in operation today in New England, can mitigate reliance on the most polluting peaker plants that burn fossil fuels, supporting the region’s clean energy transition. FirstLight’s clean energy facilities provide a source of clean, reliable, and cost-competitive energy throughout the year, and our energy storage facilities are called on regularly during times of grid stress, notably during heat waves, cold snaps, and extreme weather events when electricity demand spikes or energy generators fail to deliver power as expected and reserve assets must step in. As climate change accelerates and extreme weather events grow more frequent, be it heat waves, nor’easters,  or periods of extreme rainfall, FirstLight is well equipped to support the electricity needs of New England communities.

“As a steward of hundreds of miles of shoreline along some of the region’s most beautiful rivers and lakes, FirstLight is committed to balancing our role as a clean energy generator with ensuring that the public can safely access and enjoy the many outdoor activities in recreation areas that we manage,” said Andy Brydges, Director of Community Relations for FirstLight. “The waters on which our projects are located are great resources for recreation during the summer months, and with climate change and associated changing weather patterns, we are committed to encouraging safe use of these waters – especially during and in the days after extreme whether when there can be unexpected changes in water levels, river currents, water temperature, or visibility issues in the water.”

Reflecting on the Northeast’s rainy summer of 2023, with many states setting rainfall records, FirstLight reminds the public that heavy rainfall can bring high water levels and elevated flow rates on rivers and lakes. These conditions can be gravely dangerous, and the public should avoid rivers and lakes during heavy rainfall and until any associated high flows subside. As the public resumes recreation activities on rivers and lakes once high flows subside, it is important to remain vigilant, as heavy rainfall and high flows can result in increased debris in the water.

In anticipation of increased recreational activity along with high summer temperatures, FirstLight also shares a few simple but vital steps to keep you safe while boating:

  • During extreme heat conditions, boaters should plan accordingly and monitor water levels.
  • Always wear a life jacket or personal floatation device.
  • Take a boating safety course.
  • Avoid alcohol use.
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out.
  • Learn to swim.
  • Never stand up in your small powerboat, canoe or similar watercraft.
  • Don’t overload your boat.
  • Use common sense and operate responsibly.

FirstLight also shared some safety tips to keep in mind when swimming:

  • Look for signage and never swim in the restricted areas near a dam or hydropower facility where water levels and rapids can change unexpectedly. 
  • Never swim alone.
  • Only use approved flotation devices; do not rely on toys or inner tubes.
  • Know your limitations and swimming skills.
  • Swim only in designated swimming areas. 
  • Swim sober.
  • Watch small children near the water.
  • Never dive into rivers or lakes; each year nearly 3,000 people are paralyzed as a result of diving into shallow water or hitting an unseen underwater obstruction.

To learn more, visit the water safety section of the American Red Cross. You can find additional boating safety tips via the American Boating Association

In addition, for more information on FirstLight’s recreation areas and upcoming programs, please visit https://firstlight.energy/stewardship/#recreation

We welcome inquiries from the media, questions about our projects and recreation spaces, and gladly engage curiosity about our mission, vision, and more.

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