Milford supervisors announced Tuesday night that plans for the recently-acquired Norris property may see the parcel become home to a small-scale hydroelectric power plant.
The Nursery Road property was formerly the location of the Gerhart Mill. Since obtaining the property, the township has gutted the existing building and contacted companies like PJM and PPL to look into third-party power purchase agreements.
Carpenter Marcus Brandt, of Boyertown, has confirmed that the existing building, which was built after a fire at Gerhart Mill in 1910, does not hold any crucial historic value and therefore could be altered as desired.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Brandt explained that there are several factors that need to be considered in order to turn the property into an effective hydroelectric plant.
“We need to get the stream flow metering data for the Unami [Creek]. It is also important that the township decides what it envisions the property becoming for the community in regards to public access to the Unami,” Brandt said.
When asked how the additional water flow of the plant might affect flooding at Trumbauersville Road and Nursery Road bridges, Brandt assured the board that the flow could be controlled by the type of wheel installed at the plant.
“It is possible to plan for flood control. In flood situation, depending on the wheel type, the wheel can be brought out of the way” he said.
There is also the potential for the head race to be reworked so that the flow can be shut off. This would work the same way in which a canal lock works. In general, though, the location is conducive to a hydroelectric plant because of the fail-safe that already exists at the spot.
Following through with the project would not only result in a more cost-effective means of energy, it could also potentially lead to the construction of a community center, such as a dance hall or nature center, and could create greater public access to the Unami Creek, for activities such as kayaking or boating.
Although the details of the project are still in the works, the township expects to start exploring its options more thoroughly this spring. The board requests that anyone with photographs of the Norris property when it was still Gerhart Mill please contact Milford Township at (215) 536-2090.