FERC accepts surrender of three Maine projects for decommissioning

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has accepted the surrender of three hydropower licenses by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, clearing the way for removal of the 7.9-MW Great Works and 8.4-MW Veazie project dams and the bypassing of the 1.875-MW Howland project in Maine’s Penobscot River Basin.

Penobscot River Restoration Trust raised $25 million to acquire from PPL Corp. and remove Great Works (No. 2312) and Veazie (No. 2403) dams and bypass the Howland project (No. 2721) to open hundreds of miles of the Penobscot River system to Atlantic salmon and other fish. (HydroWorld 7/2/09) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration requested information in June from contractors able to research survival estimates for Atlantic salmon at 15 hydroelectric projects on the Penobscot, including Great Works, Veazie, and Howland. (HydroWorld 6/10/10)

Under a salmon restoration agreement, PPL agreed to sell the three projects in exchange for provisions letting it improve its remaining hydropower projects on the river in order to retain more than 90 percent of its original generation. However, the Pennsylvania utility agreed in July 2009 to sell the remainder of its PPL Maine hydroelectric generation business to Black Bear Hydro Partners LLC, an affiliate of Arclight Capital Partners LLC. (HydroWorld 9/21/09) PPL had stakes in six hydro projects totaling 38 MW.

FERC issued a 28-page order June 16 approving Penobscot River Restoration Trust’s application for surrender of the three licenses. However, FERC said the surrenders will not be effective until FERC’s New York Regional Engineer declares that all terms and conditions of the surrender order have been satisfied.

The commission said the trust is to commence removal or construction of project features (such as access roads and cofferdams) within two years and shall complete the work within six years. The order contains findings and mitigation requirements dealing with water quality, endangered species, historic preservation, fisheries management, dam safety, and invasive species.

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