Trust raises $25 million to buy, remove Maine dams

Penobscot River Restoration Trust has raised $25 million necessary to buy three hydropower projects on Maine’s Penobscot River from PPL Corp. and remove them.

The trust plans to remove or decommission the dams to open nearly 1,000 miles of the river to Atlantic salmon and other migratory fish. PPL announced Aug. 21 it received the trust’s notice of intent to exercise an option to buy the dams, as provided by a 2004 salmon restoration agreement. (HNN 4/30/08)

Under the 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. The sale is subject to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval.

�The Penobscot Trust’s decision to purchase the dams enables us to move forward to complete this historic effort to restore a more vibrant, healthy river for people and wildlife,� Penobscot Trust Executive Director Laura Rose Day said. �PPL Corp., the Penobscot Trust, people throughout the Penobscot region and governmental partners are working together for a future Penobscot River that supports hydropower energy, native sea-run fish, and more robust recreation, business, and cultural opportunities.�

The non-profit trust plans to remove dams at 8-MW Veazie (No. 2403) and 8-MW Great Works (No. 2312), and decommission the dam at 2-MW Howland (No. 2721). The trust said it plans to leave the Howland Dam in place and install a bypass channel for fish passage.

PPL announced in April it intends to spend $4.7 million to renovate and recommission 2.323-MW Orono (No. 2710), also on the Penobscot River, increasing capacity to 3 MW. It began that work in May. A concrete penstock will be constructed to replace a failed wooden penstock that idled the project since 1996. The plant’s turbine-generators are expected to begin generating by 2009.

Orono is PPL’s second expansion of hydropower generation under terms of the 2004 agreement. In 2006, the company increased 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.

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