PPL invests $4.7 million to recommission Maine’s 3-MW Orono

PPL Corp. announced April 30 it intends to spend $4.7 million to renovate and recommission the 2.323-MW Orono hydroelectric project on Maine’s Penobscot River, increasing capacity to 3 MW.

Construction is to begin May 19 at Orono (No. 2710), including construction of a concrete penstock to replace a failed wooden penstock that idled the project since 1996.

The plant’s turbine-generators are expected to begin generating by 2009, President Dennis Murphy of PPL’s Eastern Fossil and Hydro Generation unit, said. PPL anticipates the plant will generate 20,000 MWh annually.

Orono is PPL’s second expansion of hydropower generation under terms of a 2004 salmon restoration agreement for the Penobscot River. (HNN 2/5/07) In mid-2006, PPL increased the output of its 3.44-MW Medway (No. 2666), 13-MW West Enfield (No. 2600), and 1.95-MW Stillwater (No. 2712) projects by 10,000 MWh. That work involved adding flashboards to each of the Penobscot River dams.

PPL, which is headquartered in Allentown, Pa., purchased Orono in 1999 as part of a package of generation and other assets from Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.

Under the salmon restoration agreement, PPL agreed to sell three hydroelectric projects in exchange for provisions letting it improve its remaining projects in order to retain more than 90 percent of its original generation.

Under the agreement, the non-profit Penobscot River Restoration Trust has until June 2009 to exercise an option to buy PPL’s 8-MW Veazie (No. 2403), 8-MW Great Works (No. 2312), and 2-MW Howland (No. 2721) dams for about $25 million. The trust plans to remove Veazie and Great Works, and decommission Howland Dam but leave it in place and install a bypass channel for fish passage.

PPL plans expansion projects totaling $500 million

PPL said it plans to spend more than $500 million on hydroelectric expansions in Maine, Montana, and Pennsylvania over the next several years.

In addition to Orono, the expansions are being carried out at 35-MW Rainbow Dam in Montana and the 107.2-MW Holtwood project in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, PPL authorized $175 million to build a new 60-MW Rainbow plant on the Missouri River that will replace the 35-MW Rainbow plant, part of the 326.9-MW Missouri-Madison project (No. 2188). (HNN 2/28/08) In January, PPL announced it hopes to begin construction in spring 2009 on the 125-MW Holtwood Expansion, a $300 million addition to the 107.2-MW Holtwood project (No. 1881) on the Susquehanna River. (HNN 1/18/08)

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